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Steve (Chicago, IL United States)

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Brave New World Classic Ed
Brave New World Classic Ed
by Aldous Huxley
Edition: Paperback
131 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, July 3 2004
I shouldn't fault Huxley for the fact that this book is so often classified with George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four" -- but I can't conceal my disappointment. "Nineteen Eighty-Four" was a frighteningly convincing Dystopian nightmare and a damn good story; "Brave New World" is a vaguely sketched fable with far too little background or character development (and far too many self-conscious references to Shakespeare). Huxley devises a potentially fascinating world which could be used as a setting for any number of engaging, thought-provoking plot lines -- and then fails to deliver one. The ending (which I won't reveal) could be foreseen well in advance; it seemed like little more than a last-ditch attempt to make the story interesting.
It's fashionable and, I think, considered "deep" to read a book like this and say "how prophetic" or "look, it's actually happening!" It's also disingenuous. Many reviewers have said something like "see, people today take drugs and watch silly movies for escapist entertainment -- Huxley's Utopia is just around the corner!" But people in Huxley's day also took drugs (he specifically mentions cocaine and alcohol abuse) and partook of the escapist entertainment of their day. The crux of Huxley's dystopian vision wasn't free love or happiness through chemicals -- these were just enablers, like Roman bread and circuses -- but the conditioning, since before birth, of each person to fill a pre-ordained role in society; in effect, the elimination of free will regarding one's lot in life. Thankfully, this nightmare is no closer today than it was in Huxley's time -- indeed, with Communism and the attendant evils of Stalinist-era collectivization all but dead, it's more remote than ever.

Cydonia
Cydonia
Price: CDN$ 17.19
25 used & new from CDN$ 2.96

4.0 out of 5 stars We have a pope! And his name is..., July 2 2004
This review is from: Cydonia (Audio CD)
Of the four Orb albums I have (the others being "Ultraworld", "Orbus Terrarum", and "Orblivion"), this is almost certainly my favorite. Somehow filling a happy medium between the dark, thumping grooves of "Orblivion" and the often aimless (though sometimes beautiful) ambience of "Ultraworld", "Cydonia" is a beautiful cut of low-key electronica that usually hovers just on the edge of consciousness but sometimes ("Ghostdancing", "Hamlet of Kings", and especially the haunting -- yet strangely upbeat -- repeating arpeggios of "Terminus") shines forth as a little slice of electronic brilliance. "Terminus", in particular, is a wickedly addictive track that always seems to end about ten minutes too soon... but then that's why we have the "back" button, right?
Nice one, Dr. Patterson.

Blue Album
Blue Album
Offered by Prestivo3
Price: CDN$ 24.99
8 used & new from CDN$ 11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars There's a new master of creation -- it's you!, July 2 2004
This review is from: Blue Album (Audio CD)
My first exposure to the tracks on this album came in Brixton, London last week when I was lucky enough to see one of Orbital's last live shows. After three or four classic tracks, they performed something I'd never heard before which I absolutely fell in love with -- turned out it was "You Lot." A fantastic track; a real throwback to the Green/Brown days. I had to rush out and buy the album immediately to hear the rest of it.
I wasn't disappointed. "Acid Pants," in particular, will delight long-time Orbital fans, although I admit that new listeners might find it a little strange. "One Perfect Sunrise" is a lovely, melodic track in the style of Chicane, although it doesn't merit its status as the album's first single (that honor should have gone to "You Lot", hands down). This is a much stronger outing overall than "Middle of Nowhere" (which still had its moments of brilliance) or "The Altogether" (which didn't). My only criticism would be the track titles -- "Pants"? "Bath Time"? Doesn't exactly reach out and grab me. But oh well. This album represents the passing of an era, friends. Buy a copy and enjoy.

Bachbusters
Bachbusters
Price: CDN$ 13.56
40 used & new from CDN$ 2.03

5.0 out of 5 stars A classic!, May 31 2004
This review is from: Bachbusters (Audio CD)
I first got my hands on this CD in the late 1980's (the 1990 release date listed by Amazon is incorrect) and it ignited a life-long love affair with the music of Bach. Everything on the disc, from the thundering chords of the Fugue in D Minor to the bouncy, almost pop-like beats of the Italian Concerto, is brilliant -- and, incredibly, the choice of instrumentation doesn't sound cheesy or annoying years later (as it does with, say, Wendy Carlos' Switched-On-Bach albums). Dorsey's incredible rendition of the Fugue in D Minor drove me to learn to play the piece, a significant undertaking, which is probably the highest endorsement I can offer. And, as other reviewers have noted, the rendition of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring is really quite breathtaking (although it hasn't aged as well as some of the other material on the disc). Dorsey's done a great job of making the music of Bach more accessible -- hats off.

The War Of The Worlds (1978 Studio Cast)
The War Of The Worlds (1978 Studio Cast)
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 38.95
5 used & new from CDN$ 26.13

5.0 out of 5 stars One of a kind!, Feb. 22 2004
Jeff Wayne's "The War of the Worlds" is truly a unique undertaking (a two-hour rock album based on an H.G. Wells novel? who would think of such a thing?)--and a remarkably successful one. Steering almost entirely clear of special effects, Wayne uses recurring musical elements to tell his story--the ominous chords of the main theme; the driving bass rhythm which we first hear at the start of "The Heat Ray"; the eerie Martian whistle which makes a final, unexpected appearance in the Epilogue--with great effectiveness. Sure, this is a 1976 recording, and the wokka-wokka disco sound of the era makes occasional appearances--but overall, this recording has aged remarkably well. Wayne clearly has mastery of all musical genres. My only complaint would be that the second disc isn't quite as inspired as the first--too much atmosphere and not enough action for my taste. Nonetheless, a 5-star album.

The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld
The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 24.95
11 used & new from CDN$ 9.57

4.0 out of 5 stars Klytus! I'm bored. What plaything do you have for me today?, Sept. 26 2003
"Ultraworld" is almost indescribable as an album. The tracks range from bright and danceable (the brilliant "Little Fluffy Clouds") to dark and ominous (the incessant, pulsating baseline of "Earth," which opens with one of the best movie samples of all time) to downright inscrutable (the bizarre, lengthy, and yet somehow very pleasing "A Huge Ever-Growing Pulsating Brain..."). Yet, amazingly, it all hangs together beautifully. While many of the tracks don't exactly reach out and grab me, I'm generally quite content to let them linger in the back of my consciousness; and once in a while, I'll hear something in the layered soundscapes that I think is just brilliant (my personal favorite is the inexplicable rooster about halfway through "A Huge Ever-Growing..."; it conjures up images of floating languidly through space and suddenly finding oneself face-to-face with a giant chicken).
The layering of sounds throughout the double album is expertly done; no one does it better (except possibly Orbital on their Brown Album--but that's an altogether different genre). Regrettably, some of this material is beginning to show its age--particularly in the instrumentation of the faux-reggae track "Perpetual Dawn," and, to a lesser extent, in "A Huge Ever-Growing..."--but, on the whole, it holds together extremely well for an album from 1991.
One word of caution: don't buy this album expecting more songs like "Little Fluffy Clouds." Most of this album is far less straightforward, but, in the final analysis, no less enjoyable.

The Lorax
The Lorax
by Dr. Seuss
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 12.34
51 used & new from CDN$ 8.37

5.0 out of 5 stars Seuss' masterpiece..., April 29 2003
This review is from: The Lorax (Hardcover)
In my opinion, this is easily Dr. Seuss' greatest work -- high praise indeed, since almost everything he ever wrote is a classic. The cautionary tale of the Once-ler, who now lurks in his Lerkim, cold under the roof, making his own clothes out of meef-muffled moof, is -- incredibly! -- cute, funny, sad, and moving at the same time. Adults will appreciate Geisel's classic wit, clever rhymes, and timely message -- and kids will love it because, hey, it's Dr. Seuss. I honestly believe that if everyone only sat down and read "The Lorax" every once in a while, the world would be a better place.

Fresh Aire
Fresh Aire
Price: CDN$ 13.99
19 used & new from CDN$ 8.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Mannheim's masterpiece..., Dec 28 2002
This review is from: Fresh Aire (Audio CD)
Ah, Fresh Aire V--where to begin? Easily Chip Davis' (and, by extension, the Mannheim Steamroller's) best album, Fresh Aire V runs the musical gamut from its opening, inspiringly beautiful chorale, "Lumen," to the hard-hitting synthetic textures of "Escape from the Atmosphere," and touches on everything in between. With this masterstroke, Davis finally achieved what his earlier albums strove for (and what his later albums, frustratingly, consistently failed to recapture)--a seamless integration of orchestral, vocal, and synthetic textures in such a way that it all feels completely natural. Admittedly, some of the synthesizers can sound a little corny to today's ear (especially in "Dancin' in the Stars"--shades of disco, I'm afraid, but still fun to listen to). But at its highest points--particularly the 10+-minute "Escape from the Atmosphere" and the beautiful, inspiring "Earthrise/Return" sequence--Fresh Aire V is a breakthtaking success that hasn't lost any of its power with age. My advice: turn down the lights, crank up the volume, start the second track and enjoy.

Hystericool: Best of the Alternate Mixes
Hystericool: Best of the Alternate Mixes
Offered by BargainBookStores USA
Price: CDN$ 13.63
2 used & new from CDN$ 13.63

2.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother, Dec 15 2002
Yet another re-hash of tired, overmixed Shamen songs--many of which are true classics, but sadly presented in what is not even close to being their best light. The album opens with the worst mix of "Ebeneezer Goode" ever, the atonal "South of Detroit Vocal", and it doesn't get much better from there. In fact, the "Best of the Alternate Mixes" title is belied altogether by tracks 4-7, which are album versions lifted directly from "En-Tact". Among these is the "666 Edit" version of "Move Any Mountain", which is particularly disappointing considering that well over a dozen excellent, highly listenable remixes of that track are available. About the only mixes on this disc worth any consideration at all are the Beatmasters' version of "Boss Drum" and the "Hardfloor Vocal" remix of "Destination Eschaton", both of which are also included on the "Collection" two-disc set along with many other excellent selections. So unless you're a Shamen freak (as I am) who absolutely must have every Shamen CD in existence, skip the brutally-named "Hystericool" and pick up the "Collection" set instead. You won't be missing anything.

Cube (Widescreen) [Import]
Cube (Widescreen) [Import]
DVD ~ Nicole de Boer
Offered by moviemars-canada
Price: CDN$ 9.77
28 used & new from CDN$ 2.97

1.0 out of 5 stars Great premise, horrendous execution, Dec 10 2002
This review is from: Cube (Widescreen) [Import] (DVD)
The fascinating plot kernel this movie centers around--a group of strangers suddenly awake to find themselves in a maze of rooms full of deathtraps--doesn't begin to make up for the awful way that idea is developed. First, there's the miserable acting. Then, there's the self-consciously cerebral non-attempt at justifying the Cube's existence. There's the mathematical aspect, which many reviewers paradoxically cite as one of the finer points of the film--when, in reality, most of the math-speak in this movie makes little or no sense. Finally, there's the absurd ending, replete with every cliche in the book (which I won't mention specifically here so as not to ruin the movie for anyone). Basically, my advice is: stay away. There are too many other, better ways to spend two hours of your life than watching this tripe.

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