Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Home – The Gathering [#589]

Gathering_homeDuring the Great Download Free For All of the mid-noughties when I was ripped from the comedy inflatable bosom of Nightwish and thrown grovelling at the awesome rock prowess of The Gathering, I was self-tasked with the necessity to obtain the band’s entire catalogue.

Fortunately, this was one of those times when such an action was worthwhile. Aside from the band’s first couple of albums, Always and Almost a Dance, which are both truly dreadful and were swiftly deleted from my collection, their other albums just kept on sending tingles.

The Gathering are another example of where the UKs coverage of quality Euro music is lacking. The downright snobbery of the UK music industry in regard to artists from beyond the North Sea frequently turns my stomach. There really are some excellent artists out there but because a minority have the monopoly on what is seen and heard in the UK, it is often the case that without the internet, nothing “non-British” would be available. Indeed, even with impending changes to the accessibility of internet this will only get worse and result in  further impedence of the spread of culture from east to west while the spread of culture from west to east will continue unhindered.

Home is The Gathering’s eighth album and the last to feature Anneke van Giersbergen who, in my opinion, made the band. It seems that 2006 was the time of departure for a few female led Eurometal bands (eg Nightwish and Tarja’s departure), but rather than disappear into obscurity, van Giersbergen went on to work with Ayreon and do her own stuff and quite successfully too. Like Mandylion, it has an almost progressive concept album feel to it but the concept album vibe might just be my overactive imagination.

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Hits – Pulp [#588]

Pulp_HitsJarvis Cocker and Sheffield’s finest with an hour and twenty minutes of lyrics illustrating gritty northern GenX premillennial social situations.  How times have changed. Yet Pulp is still powerfully relevant and reflective of youthful experiences.

This is the band’s final (at time of press) Greatest Hits compilation and features all the familiar Pulp tunes. I obtained the album having spent years avoiding Cocker’s band like the plague due to the band’s seemingly undue popularity amongst my peers. However, having reflected on how the band’s music seemed to pop up in film soundtracks that I liked I gave them a go by trying their Greatest Hits album. My opinion remains the same, but whenever I feel a little less northern, I give the album a listen and immediately feel all gritty post-industrial.

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Hergest Ridge – Mike Oldfield [#582]

Hergestridgecover.jpgOldfield’s second album takes inspiration from a delightfully picturesque area of Herefordshire where Oldfield was living while attempting to escape the media attention gained from the success of his first album.

Until about 2000, I had only been brave enough to listen to the extract of Hergest Ridge that featured on the Complete Mike Oldfield box set having been advised by an elder sibling that “It isn’t much cop”. Still, as with all things in life, your siblings sagely advice can be similar to the type of sage that sits at the back of one’s parent’s kitchen cupboard in that Sharwoods bottle that dates from the 1970s, out of date and a matter of preferential taste.

To be fair, they were kind of right because even after a delayed listening, Hergest Ridge just doesn’t reach the dizzy heights of Tubular Bells or later works such as Islands or AmarokIt’s a very reflective or poignant work, perhaps one that is for good listening to when reading broadsheet newspapers while ensconced in one’s garret. Sure, it is Oldfield’s “difficult second album” but it shows off the young Oldfield’s developing talent and has some beautiful recurring melodies that also crop up in later works.

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Fish Rising – Steve Hillage [#476]

220px-Steve_Hillage_Fish_RisingUncelebrated guitar king and one time Gong member, Steve Hillage’s first solo album following his departure from Gong.

By all other regards, this really sounds like a Gong album. It has Gong members Howlett, Moerlen, Blake and Malherbe but also features Dave “no the other one” Stewart who you might know from helping to arrange Fear of a Blank Planet or his work with Barbara “Spirogyra” Gaskin or his TV work.

This is exactly what I like about prog. Former band mates, guys you meet in the pub and pals from different groups getting together to make music. You don’t get that in modern times. You never see the likes of Gary Barlow getting together with say, H from Steps, Noel from Oasis and Mel C to do an album about a fish. For a start their agents and recording labels wouldn’t allow it but also it’d be complete bollocks.

As I said, Fish Rising by all accounts sounds like a Gong album but without the Gnomes, Pixies and Flying Teapots. A more relaxed background album than a fully fledged “concentrate or you’ll miss it” progressive concept album. It is however something you – if you’re a fan of Gong, Hillage or embarking on a life changing journey through prog – might want to listen to as an appreciation exercise to see if you can detect distinctive musical styles and flourishes. Or maybe you’re just high on something and have the old oil projection lamps going and need something to help you focus on.

 

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Fallen – Evanescence [#458]

EvFallencover01I believe that the popularity of Evanescence can be linked to American music execs attempting to capture the zeitgeist of female fronted goth rock bands and the increasing popularity of big breasted valkyrien symphonic goth metal from Scandinavia. Their popularity was fuelled by their appearance on a variety of slightly emo-esque movies of the time such as Daredevil only to wane and disperse following rumours of Christian rock leanings.

Initially I was just as keen as most other people. I liked the sorrowful My Immortal and I started to admire their most popular Bring Me to Life until analysing the lyrics had me realise that there was something fishy in the belly of this whale and that there was possibly a leaning towards the insidious proliferation of religion in youth culture by conservatives keen on dulling the growth of the darker shades of popular culture in the shadow of Columbine and the implication of such culture in inspiring those involved in the shootings, with the additional moral panic whipped up by the American hyper-conservative based Murdochian press towards goths.

But that’s just my opinion.

The album Fallen is the bands first album (We’ve already seen their second album, Anywhere But Home, on the music project) and serious fans might suggest their only album (the band split and changed its line up before their third album). It’s presence in my music collection solely because I was fond of two tracks at a time when I should have known better.

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Demo Tape – Big Ade & Simon [#360]

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 19.50.43I’m not entirely sure who this is by. All I know is that it was given to me by my friend Min back in the 90s. The story behind it is that Big Ade (an associate of Min) and his friend (name possibly Simon) got together in Big Ade’s house and created a musical masterpiece using CueBass on Big Ade’s Atari. The added sting was that Big Ade couldn’t read a note of music.

Sadly I am unable to present the entire album for everyone to hear here, instead I created a music video to accompany this entry. It is also noteworthy that I created an album cover for my own purposes and that I have ripped the album from a cassette so sound quality isn’t great.

Enjoy.

 

 

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Cure for Pain – Morphine [#332]

Morphine-Cure_for_Pain_(album_cover)By the time I became addicted to Morphine, it was too late. Mark Sandman had died of a heart attack and the band had been dissolved. Such a shame.

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Construction Time Again – Depeche Mode [#306]

Depeche_Mode_-_Construction_Time_AgainMore from Martin Gore, Dave Gahan and co, this time with their third studio album featuring the renown Everything Counts. This is a further departure from the Vince Clarke Depeche Mode era but still the fingers of Clarke linger like an audio version of a shitty smell.

It’s after this album that the more familiar Depeche Mode sound starts to flourish but this is a good stopping off point for those keen to identify the beginnings of early industrial genre music.

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Ceromonies: Ad Mortem Ad Vitam – Fields of the Nephilim [#257]

Ceromonies: Ad Mortem Ad Vitam - Fields of the NephilimCeromonies: Ad Mortem Ad Vitam – Fields of the Nephilim

Live music from our gothic dust beaten hat wearing chaps from Stevenage.

Perhaps it’s age, but to me it’s hard to take this album seriously. The guy you can hear growling away, Carl McCoy, was in his mid forties  when this album was recorded. Which is cool. If that’s what you can pass off. But all I can think of is some “dad” like figure dressing up like some forsaken cowboy growling. Not singing. Growling.

That’s not to say I don’t like it. It’s a good album. Nice mix of songs old and new showing progression and a nice introduction to the band for young newbies. But remember kids, the lead singer is old enough to be your dad. Or, in some cases, your granddad.

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Cats and Mice – Kristin Hersh [#254]

Cats and MiceCats and Mice – Kristin Hersh

Kristin Hersh is another artist I would probably have never got into had it not been for the  Uncut: 4AD cover disk I got in the nineties.

Hersh, stepsister of  Tanya Donelly (4AD and This Mortal Coil) and former lead singer of Throwing Muses (also 4AD),  has a very unique sound. Her early stuff takes a bit of getting used to but this album, Learn to Sing Like a Star and Crooked show a much more mature and well developed Hersh than her earlier primary release groundbreaking Hips and Makers album.

This is a live album recorded sometime in 2010. As with most live albums, this is an excellent showcase of Hersh’s works spanning some years. I have tried to get to see her in the past, but she never seems to come to Daventry 😦

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Camera Camera – Renaissance (#241)

Camera Camera - RenaissanceCamera Camera – Renaissance

Prog is a funny old thing. Lots of twiddly widdly. Lots of showing off. Long songs. Nice things like that. Punk came along and ruined it; turned music listeners into consumers of sweet saccarine junk with about as much artistic merit as a lump of tar.

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Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club (#231)

Buena Vista Social ClubBuena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club

This is one of those albums that everyone seems to have.

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[Big] Bond Movie Themes – Geoff Love & His Orchestra (#209)

[Big] Bond Movie Themes - Geoff Love & His Orchestra[Big] Bond Movie Themes – Geoff Love & His Orchestra

Ok. Well it was going to happen. Some git tagged this album with the incorrect album name thus buggering up my alphabetising of the project.

Bond Movie Themes, or BIG Bond Movie Themes sees us back in the welcoming auralscape of Geoff Love’s easy listening. The main theme gets the Love treatment along with a number of Bond theme tunes.

Not as good as Geoff’s sojourn into Westerns or Sci-fi but a notable addition to his works.

 

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Album #83 – Aqualung – Jethro Tull

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 16.39.39Aqualung – Jethro Tull

Sitting on a park bench listening to Aqualung reminds me about history lessons at school.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Annwyn, Beneath the Waves – Faith and the Muse [Album #76]

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 13.11.55Annwyn, Beneath the Waves – Faith and the Muse

Until the last decade I had shamefully only heard of Faith and the Muse in rumours and student bedroom wall posters. Faith and the Muse have a similar style to Ordo Equitum Solis. Much like OES, Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance, Faith and the Muse are popular amongst the dark clothe wearing goth fraternity. Dark in style with mediaeval tones, Faith and the Muse mix open atmospheric chords with wailing floaty dressed female vocals and, in some tracks, militaristic drumming.

I had only listened to Annwyn once before. I’m not sure I would choose them for a car mix tape or to accompany a dinner party. Unless I was trying to be some sort of hipster goth or impress some Twiglet (sic) obsessed teenagers on their first forays into the dark.

I don’t know why I find this kind of music enjoyable. Perhaps it is the mental images of  dark and wet rainy streets that it conjures. In all, if your folk is too cheery, this is what you want. In a room. With joss sticks and pentagrams.

 

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Music Project – Album #25 – A Change in the Weather – Bliss

A Change in the Weather – Bliss

25 hours of listening in 96 days of 24 hour listening remaining.

I went to see Chris Isaak with Laura Beachball in 1991 and the band that was supporting was called Bliss. At first they were booed but the audience warmed to them rapidly. I did likewise.

The following day I ran into town and bought the album from HMV in that future proof format – Cassette Tape.

What a knob.

Of course they never made it big and as the CD vanished off the shelves forever, the tape became one of my valued possessions. That’s not to say I never listened to it. I did. I listened to it many times over the following years until my cassette player was packed away never to return. Before packing away the player, I connected the bugger up to my PC and copied the precious audio from the cassette tape.

I’m glad I did.

A few months later, I got a new car. With an in car Cassette player. “I know” I thought, “I’ll listen to some of my old cassettes”.  Then….driving down the M1 imagine my horror when Rachel Morrison starts sounding like she’s having a stroke. Imagine my horror growing as tape starts spewing out of the aperture.

Bloody glad I ripped the cassette now though. Bloody good tunes..

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4AD Presents…-Various Artists [#6]

4AD Presents the 13 Year Itch by Various Artists

This is the first of many compilation albums and the first of several sampler albums that I’ve collected over the years.

I’ve been a huge fan of Ivo Watt’s 4AD label since the early nineties. Watt’s distinctive production reverberates throughout all the artists borne from the 4AD stable. Throwing Muses, Belly, Lush, Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil, Department of Eagles…they’re all 4AD bands. What is unusual is that I was unaware at the time that the vast majority of them were 4AD artists. Indeed, at the time I was buying CDs and it was only in about 1991 that I actually started to pay attention to the studio and record label. So when the download frenzy of the last decade began I eagerly sucked every album I could from the 4AD label.

It was interesting at the time because I found it difficult to get most of the stuff I wanted legally due to licensing and limited editions. I would look full of whist at the catalogues and try to imagine what the songs sounded like. When I gained super fast broadband I was able to source the actual tracks and, no, I wasn’t disappointed.

13 year Itch  is a compilation sampler of the bands that were available in 1993. It starts with a rousing dose of shoe gazing with Lush’s Desire Lines, passing by The Breeders brooding about the Invisible Man and heading briefly into shady Brendan Perry (Dead Can Dance) territory (Perry performs a cover of Tim Buckley’s Happy Time) before nose diving into the This Is the Way, Part 2 climax with Ultra Vivid Scene. The zeitgeist of the 90s lives on through these artists and the 4AD label . If I was to relive my youth, I would want this to be the soundtrack. I would want to be a little older and better off than I was. I would also want to be hanging round with moody gothesque shoe gazers, talking about the impending doom of the approaching millennium, whilst sitting in bed sitting rooms that stink of Patchouli, joss sticks and couscous.

Wait…

I did.

I just described my early 20’s.

Sadly this album wasn’t playing.

If I was to do it again. I would expect it to be playing on my Sony Walkman or at least on my Sony CD player.

If you’re interested in 4AD this is the second best compilation sampler to get hold of. The first is the Uncut freeby, which I will probably review sometime in the next year.

http://www.allmusic.com/album/4ad-presents-the-13-year-itch-mw0001811485

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Welcome to Stegzy’s Music Project

 

Mba22

Hello there!

Hello! Thank you for coming along.

Over the years I have accrued over 182Gb of music. That’s loads. Some I have paid for, others I have obtained as gifts or nefariously.

A great deal of this music I have not listened to, mostly because of protests from people in the same room but also because it would take me about 92.7 solid 24 hour days to listen to the entire lot (figures accurate). So, towards the end of 2012, I thought I would listen to each album in its entirety and post a small review of what I have listened to.

So far I have listened to a variety of music from various ends of the music spectra. From pop to experimental via the twisty-turny pathways of prog, goth and heavy metal. This blog was set up in response to demands by long term readers of my Livejournal blog. Mostly “Stop”, “Please no more” and “My God! You call this music?!”. Curiously, the same demands that come from people who are unfortunate enough to travel as a passenger in my car.

Each day, using J River Media Centre and iTunes,  I will be listening to the albums alphabetically without the aid of headphones and posting comments, reviews and general thoughts on each album as I come across them. Some might be good, others, bloody awful.

You can follow my progress here or via my Last.FM profile.  So, sit back, tune in, drop out, buckle up and fetch your pipe and slippers. With over 1800 albums to listen to, it’s going to be a very long ride.

**Update** – I am now accepting contributors. If you would like to review an album from my collection, please contact me via comment, PM or email. You can request an album to be appointed at random or let me know which artist you like. I might just have an album or two for you to provide commentary on.

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