Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Inconsolable Secret – Glass Hammer [#633]

TheinconsolablesecretWhenever I hear Glass Hammer, I can’t help imagining a group of prog loving guys getting together to play music they enjoy. They do a few cover versions then decide to do their own stuff. Their own stuff is heavily laden with references to riffs and melodies from the covers they have just played. This makes their sound almost comical and self-referential.

I first heard Glass Hammer on the Odessey concept album, a various artist collaboration retelling the story of Odysseus, in the track In the Court of King Alkinoos and was interested in its similarities to works by Yes and King Crimson. A quick Google resulted in the suggestion that Inconsolable Secret was an album that I’d like.

I didn’t.

There is a little too much twiddly in the album for me. Lots of long keyboard widdling and guitar wankery can be a little too detrimental to the sound of an album. Moreover, the similarities to Yes are a little too obvious. Indeed, Glass Hammer singer Jon Davidson would later go on to replace Jon Anderson in the latest post-Squire incarnation of Yes. Beyond that, there are too many similarities to In the Court of King Alkinoos. Too often I forgot I was listening to Inconsolable Secret and thought iTunes had slipped into Oddessey. Still, it’s an interesting work and I suppose I keep it just incase my music tastes develop later, much like how they did recently with Renaissance and Illusion.



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In the Clear – Ivy [#626]

IntheclearTess Don’t Tell was the first song I ever heard from this, Ivy’s fifth studio album. I forget where it was but suspect that it was on a random “Music you might like” playlist from the earlier days of Last.FM before it was bought by Spotify and ruined.  Of course having a band name like Ivy meant having to use hardcore advanced Googlefu so that Ivy, the American band, came up in searches instead of what other monstrosities came up instead.

Ivy’s sound is a familiar one, haunting female vocals over lackadaisical rhythm and melody that just says LAZY SUMMER’S DAY in huge invisible letters. They’ve been sampled in Europe and were quite popular in parts of North America and Canada for a while. Sadly, as with many non-British bands, the licencing laws and promotion of such bands in the UK mean that few people here have heard of them except perhaps in the occasional American TV show or film.

Which is a great shame.

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Hotel – Moby [#591]

Moby_Hotel.jpgI really want to like Moby. I’ve tried. It just seems that all his music sounds the same. Almost. It also seems that most of the music that Moby writes somehow ends up in a film at some point.

Inspired by Moby’s fascination with hotels and their nature Hotel is Moby’s seventh album following on from 18 and Play. He has said in an interview that this is his least favourite of his albums. Conversely, I find it the most accessible of the artist’s catalogue but saying that I haven’t listened to the album that many times either.

The album comes with two bonus discs, Hotel: Ambient and Hotel: B-Sides. I’ve long since disposed of Ambient and B-Sides went to the recycle bin last year.


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High Broad Field – Sieben [#586]

R-3966307-1350801376-8852Last time we saw neofolk violinist Sieben on the music project was when he was supporting pagan folk band Faun on their live compilation Faun at the Pagan Folk Festival. This time Matt Howden whacks on his Sieben hat and applies his violin skills to his sixth release.

Howden’s style is very distinct. Lots of staccato and wood slapping violin wizardry with tense sustained notes overlain with perfectly pronounced dark lyrics multitracked and layered down with loops. As I’ve said before on the Music Project, Howden’s musical prowess is virtually unknown on the British scene which is a real shame, he really has a great talent which is well known throughout Europe but with little recognition in the UK.

High Broad Field is the preceding album to his Desire Rights and is a very close kin stylistically to the same. Elements from Sex and Wildflowers and Ogham Inside the Night are evident and one can hear aspects of Desire Rights in their infancy throughout the album. Delicious silky music for those who think Nigel Kennedy is a bit shit.

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Halo Star – Black Tape for a Blue Girl [#566]

Halo_Star_(Black_Tape_for_a_Blue_Girl_album_-_cover_art)Halo Star is the ninth studio album by the band Black Tape for a Blue Girl.

We’ve seen BTBG on the music project a couple of times before, most notably with their tenth album 10 Neurotics. As 10 Neurotics was my first experience of BTBG album and their most recent, the earlier Halo Star is difficult to adapt to, especially as I’ve not really given it that much play time. That’s not to say I don’t like it, I just guess that having eaten the cherry on the cake, the icing and sponge is one meal too much.

But I will perceiver.

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Goth Electro Tribute to Depeche Mode – Various Artists [#541]

UnknownAnother tribute compilation album featuring artists nobody has heard of covering a band people have heard of.

Today, Goth Electro bands mostly murder 12 classic Depeche Mode songs but surprisingly, I’m willing to reduce the sentence to manslaughter with diminished responsibility. Or maybe even just a “slap on the wrist don’t do it again” common assault charge.

Because on about fifth listen, some of the tracks actually work. It’s that age old thing of music suiting the environment and situation. Here I am, listening to the album in bed, late, alone at night while Mrs Gnomepants is out at an Ezio gig, and it’s kind of fitting.

Goth electro is not my favourite gothic sub-genre by any means. It’s a little too cyberpunk for me, wet streets, stupid hair styles and skin-tight plastic clothes in a post industrial futuristic vampire nightmare. This album is that, only with Depeche Mode.

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Get Behind Me Satan – The White Stripes [#515]

Get_Behind_Me_SatanLo-fi brother and sister double act Meg and Jack White’s White Stripes’ fifth studio album.

By this stage of their career, the main stream successes of previous albums such as Elephant and White Blood Cells had started to wane. Get Behind Me Satan reeks of a late night dash home to hurriedly try to recreate something that has previously taken time and care to produce.

I liked White Blood Cells  having been introduced to the band through one of Joel Veitch’s early animations on and I was fairly fond of Elephant even though Former-Mrs-Gnomepants played it to death. But something was missing by the time Get Behind Me came along. Mass production does something to quality regardless of what people say. Please don’t misunderstand me, the White Stripes quality and vibe is still there, it’s just not as honed as the previous albums. Maybe it’s the little flecks of glitter that have fallen off or maybe it’s like when an amateur athlete gets close to their goal and the cramps kick in.

Indeed, by their next album, Icky Thump, I’d given up. And so, it seems, did Meg.


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Forever Faithless: Greatest Hits – Faithless [#490]

Forever_Faithless_–_The_Greatest_Hits At this point, anyone who knows me personally will no doubt be thinking “Hang on, Dance/Trip hop? Isn’t Stegzy a hairy die hard Prog fan?”. Indeed, but sometimes, with every record collection, you find a “loved genre” busting album or band.  Faithless are one of those bands.

Please don’t think I’ve gone and burnt my Yes t-shirt or thrown out my Roger Dean posters, far from it. I liked a couple of songs by Faithless. Happy cheery dance numbers with a dark and foreboding political message for the youth of the day, which, no doubt, was lost on many. I liked those songs sufficiently to try a few of Faithless’ other albums, this one and Back to Mine.

I left it there. My two favourite songs appeared on the album, Insomnia and Mass Destruction but the other songs were a little bit too beyond my cultural tastes. While similar to Massive Attack in some respects, the later dance tracks take me out of my cultural safety zone. A prime example of when getting a greatest hits album will give you a good idea of whether or not you’ll like a band’s other works too.

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European Tour 2005 – Dead Can Dance [#435]

Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 12.51.27In 2005 an announcement was made to the effect that Dead Can Dance would tour again after several years of hiatus. Tickets for the few gigs that were to be played in the UK sold out like hot cakes.

I was unable to go.

What followed was months of people I knew saying how they were looking forward to going to the gig, followed by years of the same people saying how mind blowing the gig was. Yet all I have to remember the experience I never had is this “bootleg” featuring highlights of Dead Can Dance’s European tour in 2005.

Occasionally I listen to it from afar while sitting in an uncomfortable seat for full effect.

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Embrace the Storm – Stream of Passion [#426]

440px-Stream_of_Passion-Embrace_the_Storm-1Regular Music Project denizen, Arjen Anthony Lucassen (Ayreon), wanted to take his unique conceptualised music on tour. No mean feat when you regularly invite established musicians to join you in making records. So in order to ensure the sounds from his album were not too lost, Ayreon got together with a gang of session musicians and formed Stream of Passion.

Stream of Passion went on tour with Lucassen until he got bored and moved off to other things. However the behemoth he created continues on, storming Dutch and mainland European rock festivals with a mix of their own stuff and Ayreon covers.

Embrace the Storm is their first album, still with Lucassen and lead singer Marcela Bovio, as a result it sounds a lot like an Ayreon concept album, but it isn’t.

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Danny Elfman [#261]

CHANGES+IN+MINDCharlie and the Chocolate Factory – Danny Elfman

Hello again, it’s me Steelrattus, with my third guest post. Stegzy is obviously far too polite to give me the boot.

Of the three albums I’ve “reviewed” so far this is the most difficult, because there’s not a lot of substance to review. I made the mistake twice previously of choosing “best of” albums, and now we have an (original) film soundtrack!

Why I feel vaguely qualified to comment on this album requires a short bit of background. I have young children, and being someone who loves… adores films I was keen to introduce my eldest daughter to what I feel are some of the best films around. One of those was the 1971 version (Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory). I was keen she watched this version first, because I feel it’s the more charming of the two film incarnations of Roald Dahl’s book. We have subsequently watched the 2005 version, which does have some charm, but is arguably spoiled by trying to be too moral. I have tried to read the book to my eldest daughter, but it’s too complicated for her at the moment. Anyway, I have the soundtracks to both films, and we have regularly sung along to them both in the car, so this particular soundtrack is fairly well ingrained in my brain.

Anyway, the soundtrack… for a Tim Burton film you won’t be surprised to find that it’s composed by Danny Elfman. The album is essentially divided into two parts. The first five tracks are all songs with lyrics, and the remaining fifteen tracks are all instrumentals that essentially act as the film’s score. One of the reasons I’d like to read the book again is that apparently the four songs about the various nasty children are taken from Dahl’s book, unlike the 1971 version which has both less and different songs (as far as the children are concerned). Elfman of course had to arrange them to music, and apparently sings them all as well using a variety of synthesised voices to reflect the Oompa-Loompas. The songs are quite fun and as mentioned I regularly sing along to them, with my eldest, in the car. The remaining tracks are a bit more forgettable and fairly standard film score fair.

Here we have the first of the songs about the children, in this case Augustus Gloop. As you can see, all the Oompa-Loompas are performed, with a bit of CGI magic, by Deep Roy. Although as mentioned above, it’s all sung by Danny Elfman.

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Attagirl – Bettie Serveert [#105]

Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 16.30.25Attagirl by Bettie Serveert

Back in the dark days of the 1990s I was introduced to the 4AD record label by way of a free CD on the cover of a magazine. Over time on the back of this, I developed a taste for all things 4AD. One of the many artists signed to 4AD was Bettie Serveert.

This is the first in three Serveert albums I have. To be honest, I’m not a massive fan, it’s just nice music to have. One of those musicians that don’t seem to have a large fan base in the UK. However, just think Suzanne Vega with a croakier voice and you’ll get the idea.


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Achtung Bono! – Half Man Half Biscuit [#53]

folder Achtung Bono – Half Man Half Biscuit

This is the third HMHB album in my collection and their tenth album. Released in 2005, it features the 2010 Radio 6 fan favourite. Joy Division Oven Gloves. Without trying to sound like a hipster, I was listening to this album before 85% of the people who came to discover HMHB because of that song.

So there.


Some of my all time favourite HMHB tracks appear on this album including Asparagus Next Left, Restless Legs and Letters Sent.

As with all HMHB, brilliantly observed and cutting.

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Accessories – The Gathering [#51]

Accessories – The Gathering

This is the second album alphabetically that I have from The Gathering. It is one of those filler albums. The ones that bands or record labels release to maintain interest in their music between albums. Accessories is a compilation of live, rare and b side songs.

Songs from Mandylion like Strange Machines, Amity and In Motion are joined by covers of Dead Can Dance (In Power We Trust the Love Advocated) and instrumental and orchestral versions of other classic Gathering songs.

I suppose it is one of my favourite albums by the Gathering, purely because it showcases most of their better songs. Spread over two discs, the playtime runs to just over 2 hours 25 minutes and is a good introduction to the band if you couldn’t face A Noise Severe.

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Music Project – Album #1: 69-95 by Lemon Jelly

’69 – ’95 – Lemon Jelly

I must have first heard of Lemon Jelly when I was living in Huskisson Street in Liverpool, so that must have been about 1999-2000. I most certainly had some of their other albums on my battered old Creative Jukebox 2 and that died when I worked at Liverpool University.

Anyway, in this, the first of several Lemon Jelly albums that I “own”, the artists have used samples from their own record collection to piece together a tidy package of eclectic and eccentric electronica. The first track launches us into a rousing maelstrom of sound that whips us back in time style wise. At times the thumping beats can be a bit exhausting but the album maintains a consistent form. By the middle track ’79 The Shouty Track the listener is cheekily reminded of their time travel through the archives by a heavily Doctor Who influenced track. Curiously, I actually have a mix of the same track where the creator has mixed in the Doctor Who theme which works really well. Then further in, we reach a track where William Shatner does his “talking” to great effect. I understand that in return for this favour, Lemon Jelly provided some of the music for Shatner’s Has Been.

If, like me, you like variety in your modern music then you might like this album. For me, it’s a grower. It used to be my least favourite Lemon Jelly album, but continued listening has made it act like a dose of thrush which has spread across my musical taste buds. Even so, I couldn’t listen to it every day. Maybe occasionally.

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