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The Technology
The Technology
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 34.95
5 used & new from CDN$ 7.51

4.0 out of 5 stars Skip Emotional Technology and get this instead., July 17 2004
This review is from: The Technology (Audio CD)
I wasn't particularly thrilled with BT's latest, Emotional Technology, despite being a massive fan of the man. For more details on that, see my review of the album. This CD, however, The Technology, is a lot more interesting.
The radio edit of The Force Of Gravity shortens the overly drawn out track, and showcases the vocals a bit more (which works really well, amazingly). The second track is Tiesto's superb remix of the same song, and Tiesto once again proves himself to be one of the few artists capable of saving the dying genre of trance; his remix alone is worth the price of admission, and builds and climaxes wonderfully. I'm not familiar with Dylan Rhymes, but his "Push Up" remix of The Force Of Gravity has caught my interest. Something a stylistic blend of old-school Hybrid and BT (when he's on a nu-breaks mood like in his song Madskillz-Mic Chekka), it simply kicks off strong and keeps kicking the whole way through. Not as emotional as Tiesto's remix, Rhymes' instead goes for a "get down" groove, and it's great. The Attention Deficit remix of The Great Escape proves that when Dave Dresden isn't sitting on his rear riding on the ridiculous success Motorcycle - When The Rush Comes, he's a serious talent. While I consider the original to be one of the few highlights of BT's ET album, the Dresden delivers the goods.
I still find Superfabulous to be atrocious, but these remixes are an improvement over the original (not that that's saying much). I'll be honest: I listened to both once, and have skipped them ever since when listening to the CD, so you'll have to be your own judge as to whether or not they're quality tracks.
On top of having great remixes, the CD offers you the chance to make your own remixes (assuming you have ProTools or an equivalent software and the talent to do so). There's a music video for Somnambulist, but between BT's awful hair and fruity raver T'ai Chi, I can't really say it's a good addition.
My verdict? The Technology EP is worth more of your attention than Emotional Technology, assuming you were a fan of BT before he wrote the words "simply being loved is more than enough."

Legion Of Boom
Legion Of Boom
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 33.95
6 used & new from CDN$ 4.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Uneven., July 1 2004
This review is from: Legion Of Boom (Audio CD)
Legion Of Boom doesn't have bass. Legion Of Boom IS bass. The Crystal Method's third album is a loud, in-your-face blowout of basslines and guitars. I said Tweekend was the evil little brother of Vegas; this time around, Legion is the evil little brother of Tweekend, if that's at all possible.
The album starts strong, with the great opening track Starting Over. The big single off this album Born Too Slow follows, though frankly it's my least favorite number on the album. Unfortunately, after this point, the album seems to lose focus. True Grit and The American Way feel very much like "filler" tracks. I Know It's You starts incredibly well, but unfortunately climaxes in a harsh medley of high-pitch screeching noises; disappointing, to say the least. Realizer is immediately forgettable, though Broken Glass has a great beat and style that echoes of some of Tweekend's better aspects. Thankfully, the album picks up some momentum here. Weapons Of Mass Distortion is intense and clearly the successor to the great Name Of The Game. Bound Too Long isn't bad at all, and from here the album gets decidely more electronic, with less focus on guitars. Acetone is stellar, and sounds more like a grown-up track from their debut album, Vegas. The two closing tracks, High And Low and Wide Open, also seem more Vegas inspired than Tweekend, and do a great job of finishing the CD pleasantly.
Vegas was all about flash. Tweekend was attitude. Legion is bass. It's unfortunately the weakest of the Method's three CDs, its high moments marred by the uninspired and boring filler. While it refines both the Tweekend and Vegas sounds, it brings nothing new of its own to the table. Worth a listen, but not a "must have."

Any Given Sunday (Widescreen Director's Cut) [Import]
Any Given Sunday (Widescreen Director's Cut) [Import]
DVD ~ Al Pacino
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 17.51
38 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite there, but entertaining., June 29 2004
In Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday, the audience gets hit by cliches as fast and as hard as the fictional Miami Sharks' quarterbacks get hit by other players during the film's opening game. The audience also get hit hard by the (overly) kinetic editing, both of the film and of the mish-mash adrenaline pumper of a soundtrack, featuring an assortment of rock, rap, and techno beats. Stone and co-writer John Logan push (overly) to get us to buy into their vision of the NFL as a modern gladiatorial arena, and frankly, it doesn't always work; Logan would later get his gladiator fix by co-writing Ridley Scott's crowd-pleaser, well, Gladiator. Still, Logan and Stone manage to score some points with their (overly) broad script which tries to give us an all-encompassing view of modern professional football. Inevitably, it proves too much, and the writing just proves too wide in scope to create a balanced and clear film, though it does have its shining moments, such as when Coach D'Amato (Al Pacino) has comments on the (overly) commercial persona the NFL has adopted, or when Cameron Diaz's character's mother describes the "tragedy" that is her daughter.
Pacino, completely at ease in an Stone flick, gives his first real performance in a long time. Both in his in-game frenzy and in his drunken, sadder scenes, Pacino delivers the goods. Comedian Jamie Foxx also turns in a winning dramatic performance as the rookie quarterback. Come to think of it, the whole cast is stellar and all perform well. Stone seems to bring out strong, almost flamboyant, performances in his actors, and in Oliver Stone films, that's very appropriate. However, the MTV-inspired soundtrack and cinematography detract from the serious delivery of some of the film's concepts. At times, the film seemed more an extended music video than anything else.
Any Given Sunday is a rough movie, both in terms production and in content. The film, despite its lengthy runtime, still feels like it left much of its ideas unsaid; the script just tries too cover simply too many characters and concepts, leaving many of the key players in a somewhat shallow and cardboard like state. Still, Any Given Sunday is an entertaining movie, and fans of football, Oliver Stone, and movies overloaded with dizzying amounts of music and testosterone will no doubt be pleased by the time the credits roll.

The Last Samurai (Widescreen) (2 Discs)
The Last Samurai (Widescreen) (2 Discs)
DVD ~ Tom Cruise
Price: CDN$ 7.49
88 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A superb action-epic., June 27 2004
Edward Zwick's The Last Samurai is on the wrong side of history. It's perception of Japanese history is unfortunately very Hollywood, with a very limited perception of the complexities of the period in which the film takes place. It also forgets that the "halcyon years of the samurai" were in fact the bloodiest and most war-prone, and that the samurai and their warlords tore Japan's lands and peasant class apart with their constant bickering and ulta-sharp blades. All of this said, The Last Samurai is one of the best made films I've seen in a very long time.
Highly romantic, often melodramatic (not surprising, given that story and co-screenwriter John Logan's previous work includes the also romantic and melodramatic Gladiator from director Ridley Scott), The Last Samurai is visually and aurally most similar to Michael Mann's The Last Of The Mohicans. Both feature breath-taking cinematography and landscapes, and musical scores that are nothing short of gorgeous; Hans Zimmer's themesin The Last Samurai are haunting, emotional, and arguably his best yet, and are further proof of the man's implacable position as the most talented composer in Hollywood. The story is a bit less impressive: Essentially Lawrence of Arabia and Dances With Wolves meets Shogun, the movie follows American Civil War veteran and honored hero Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) as he is shipped off to train JapanŐs new army as the country tries to Westernize itself in the 1870s. A borderline drunk plagued by memories of an atrocity committed by his unit years before, Algren merely shows up in Japan for the money. However, when his ill-prepared army is sent prematurely into battle with the Samurai rebels heŐs supposed to suppress, Algren is captured and taken off to the hidden village of his Òenemy.Ó It is here that he slowly regains his honor and faith as a man, and is finally able find redemption for his sins. Hardly original, and done many times before. However, The Last Samurai treats even this almost cliched story with immense respect and care, and the end result is tremendously rewarding. Zwick is extremely careful as a director, and his sense of control and timing is flawless. Instead of rushing through the film, he takes the time to meticulously place all of the necessary elements before concluding. The time given to AlgrenŐs transformation is satisfactory, and as a result, his redemption in championing the bushido cause is very much believable, as are his combat sequences later in the film. And what beautiful combat it is. The battle sequences, choreographed by Nick Powell (Gladiator, BraveHeart) are without the doubt the most intense ever put to film. No other film yet has managed to find the thin line of showing the martial arts as both beautiful and gritty at the same time; bushido is both a kinetic dance and a disturbingly vicious combat form in this film. The film's acting is strong throughout, with Tom Cruise turning in a very believable and often quite understated performance. Ken Watanabe is nothing short of sensational as Katsumoto, leader of the samurai rebellion; he steals the show with grace and dignity. Also excellent is Koyuki, who's rather small part still remains convincing in the film. The film's $120 million dollar budget is put to perfect use, with oustanding sets, costumes and props; the Japan of 1876 leaps to life on the screen in a way we've never seen before.
The Last Samurai is, as stated before, a romantic epic. It is driven by its emotions and heart, and while this does lead to some issues with melodrama in the script, is easily over-looked simply because it has been so long that films of this size and scope have had as much heart as this one does. The Last Samurai is Edward Zwick's homage to Akira Kurosawa's samurai pictures of old, and while inevitably tainted by "Hollywood-itis," remains a handsome achievement. Few films have me wanting to sit right back down and watch them again, or have such fabulous music that I rush out and purchase the soundtrack not 20 minutes after leaving the theatre like this one did. Both visually and aurally dazzling, I recommend The Last Samurai without hesitation to those who enjoy adventure on an epic scale.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Widescreen) (2 Discs) [Import]
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Widescreen) (2 Discs) [Import]
DVD ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger
Offered by Warehouse105
Price: CDN$ 8.04
9 used & new from CDN$ 1.57

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest films ever made in perfect quality., June 27 2004
Terminator 2: Judgement Day is quite simply one of the best movies ever made. It's director James Cameron at his apex, both in terms of story-telling and in terms of production quality, and with Artisan Entertainment's Extreme Edition DVD, it's T2 in its finest form.
First, the film. As the sequel to Cameron's The Terminator, a vastly entertaining science fiction / action film, T2: Judgement Day is an overwhelming success. One of the few sequels that betters its predecessor in every way, T2 is a masterpiece of modern action film-making. Cameron was extremely ambitious with this feature, and it pays off. The rock-solid story of The Terminator is taken to all new heights of complexity and even begins to step into some incredibly deep philosophical thought for an action film (Are we truly doomed as a species, or can we save ourselves? What does it mean to be human?), and the result is a remarkably touching experience. The special effects broke into new ground in 1991, and still remain convincing and impressive even today. Brad Fiedel's gorgeous themes are given the full orchestral treatment, a wonderful improvement when compared to the pseudo-electronic / noir-esque 1980s scoring of the original film; his themes just deserve the power and depth of the orchestra, and they shine in this film. The actor's all turn in fine performances (especially Joe Morton and Linda Hamilton), even if Edward Furlong's John Connor sounds somewhat whiny at times. Cameron's vision of both the post-Apocalyptic future and the hanging-in-the-blance present is uncompromising, and Cameron balances out his fantastic action pieces with strong character development, even for Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-101 character, and the "Governator" is excellent in his most memorable role. I could go on, but T2 is a movie that deserves to be experienced, not told about. It's simply THAT good.
And with this DVD, one truly does experience it. While the Ultimate Edition has more special features, this version has an absolutely razor-sharp picture, sound, and features the extended, 152 minute version of the film, a full 16 minutes longer than the original version. The additional scenes are worth it, and flesh out characters (particularly Sarah Connor) and story information. This DVD also features commentary from Cameron and his co-writer, which die-hard Terminator fans will thoroughly enjoy.
In conclusion, Terminator 2: Judgement Day is without a doubt the greatest action movie to date, and one of the finest films ever made in any genre. It upped the ante in every regard, and sadly, still remains unsurpassed in most. There are few films I can whole-heartedly recommend that every person see. T2 is at the top of the list, and with DVD, you get to see the whole picture. And it's definitely worth it. Polished visuals, action, story, acting, music, T2 is as unstoppable as the futuristic machines it features.

Vegas
Vegas
Price: CDN$ 15.45
31 used & new from CDN$ 1.84

5.0 out of 5 stars The transcendental electronic album., June 23 2004
This review is from: Vegas (Audio CD)
The Crystal Method's debut album Vegas is without a doubt their strongest. It's also arguably the best electronica ever to be made in the USA, and undeniably one of the top electronic albums of all time. Tracks like Trip Like I Do and Keep Hope Alive have become classics, the former softly guiding you towards its frantic climax, the latter a bass-heavy, almost epic, breakbeat anthem. But don't think buying Vegas only gives you two 5 star cuts. The entire album is top-notch, remarkably diverse, and unflinching. It's an intense but artistic journey in "techno," and one of those few great CDs that makes up for all the crap electronica that gives the genre its awful reputation. From the opening Trip Like I Do to the closing Bad Stone, Vegas is a fast-paced, flashy, and kinetic masterpiece, and one of the few "must own" CDs for any electronic music fan. If you don't love this album, you need new ears, or at least better taste in techno. It's really that simple.

Wider Angle
Wider Angle
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 39.95
4 used & new from CDN$ 11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A wider angle on music., June 22 2004
This review is from: Wider Angle (Audio CD)
Wider Angle, the 2 disc edition of Hybrid's debut, Wide Angle, is an extremely interesting album. Overall, this double CD set soars, thanks in most part to the second disc, an jaw-dropping and feet-moving mix of some of Hybrid's best tunes live.
The first disc is Wide Angle, intact in its original form. And while I'll probably get some heat for saying this, it's decidedly unbalanced. The CD has some incredible high notes, tracks that surpass everything around them and are nothing short of magic. It also has some depressingly mediocre tracks that really offer nothing memorable. If I Survive, Beachcoma and Finished Symphony lead the sensational side, with gorgeously timed symphonies providing a backdrop for the fantastic breakbeats and scratch effects. Beachcoma in particular remains a favorite of mine, with lovely saxophone work and a slick build up to a great climax. However, I Know, Dreaming Your Dreams, Fatal Beating, and the studio version of High Life are all decidedly bland numbers, with uninspired lyrics that hinder the freedom of the more impressive instrumentals. Sans vocals, these tracks might have faired better, but as it is, they're surprisingly lacking.
The second disc, however, makes up for this. The live tracks are nothing short of awesome. Burnin' and the live version of High Life, along with the wickedly paced live Snyper, tear up the dance floors while Accelerator and the live Finished Symphony soar above them. The bonus tracks excellent Kill City and the original version of Kid 2000 only add to the great package.
Overall, Wider Angle is a success. I'd give the first disc alone 3 stars; the three great tracks don't really make up for the others enough to warrant more. The second disc, however, is a 5 star piece, through and through. Together, Wider Angle is a 4 star delight with high and low points that balance out to make an enjoyable and note-worthy foray into electronica.

Intensify
Intensify
Offered by @ ALLBRIGHT SALES @
Price: CDN$ 33.92
10 used & new from CDN$ 5.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Warren & Wisternoff impress., June 20 2004
This review is from: Intensify (Audio CD)
The sickeningly talented individuals Nick Warren and Jody Wisternoff came together to form a sickeningly talented duo dubbed Way Out West. Intensify is their first album, and while not as sickeningly fantastic as one would expect, is a great disc.
Intensify is a strange album in that each track toys with different sounds and style; the CD as a whole is quite experimental. WoW's first starts quickly with The Fall, an interesting but not outstanding dance number. Activity is the follow-up, a kinetic and dreamy number that's gotten much deserved acclaim and play time. Call Me is dark and moody, Hypnotise bright and upbeat, and Sharkhunt is well, intense, and would sound very at home in a big-budget spy movie. Stealth slows the album down a bit, with a lovely piano melody, though the vocals sound somewhat unpolished. UB Devoid is the most club-influenced sounding track; very danceable and slick. Mindcircus is a gorgeous chillout number, and Secret a fascinating mix of tribal sounds with cutting edge synths.
Overall, Warren and Wisternoff's baby is a great listen. It's an extremely creative and fresh album, with some very strong numbers. Unfortunately, nothing on the album really jumps out at you. While there's nothing bad on this CD, it never quite breaks into 5 star territory, a surprising fact given its creators. Still, Intensify is a wonderful addition to any electronic music fan's library.

Air Drawn Dagger
Air Drawn Dagger
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 58.95
6 used & new from CDN$ 5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Um, what am I listening to? 'Cause I like it., June 20 2004
This review is from: Air Drawn Dagger (Audio CD)
Sasha's debut studio album is about as explainable as its title, Airdrawndagger. It's not the high-energy trance akin to Xpander that made the British DJ's name immortal in the dance world. Instead, it's something of a mix of some really old-school electronica with an ambient touch and a kick of breaks.
The album starts on a decidedly trippy note with Drempels, before moving into Mr Tiddles (yeah, that's the title), a funky little tune inspired by Sasha's cat that starts off slow and slowly soars into an almost epic, yet highly controlled, climax. The album picks up speed (speed being relative, as these are both chilled tracks) with Magnetic North and Cloud Cuckoo, probably my two favorite numbers on the CD. Electro beats and dreamy melodies don't take over, however, as the dark and leaden Immortal and Fundamental follow. The album continues in this wave-esque build-up-and-slow-down pattern right up until its conclusion (the melodic Wavy Gravy), with the seemingly Vangelis inspired Requiem and Bloodlock, the closest thing to a true club track.
Sasha's touch is an odd one. The album is suprisingly minimalistic sounding at first, but further scrutiny reveals a fair amount going on. Samples played backwards, subtle "skipping" progressions, and carefully timed synth pads all come together to create the retro, yet surprisingly fresh sound that dominates the album.
Sasha's Airdrawndagger is not a dance album. Those looking for high-energy dance cuts had best check out his Global Underground mix CD Ibiza. Those looking for a new and experimental style of electronic album, however, will be quite comfortable holding air drawn daggers. Dark, dreamy, Sasha's first is a strange and surreal one, and for those willing to give it a listen, its possibly a very satisfying aural expedition.

In Silico
In Silico
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 28.18
6 used & new from CDN$ 7.43

5.0 out of 5 stars The best electronic debut in quite some time., June 19 2004
This review is from: In Silico (Audio CD)
Deepsky (J. Scott G. and Jason Blum) present us now with their debut album, In Silico (named as something of a tribute to their almost exclusive use of software "silicon" synthesizers). And it's a fine act.
This CD is crisp, clean, sharper than a straight razor. Given how poorly mixed (in the sound level sense) most CDs are these days, In Silico is an aural treat. Everything, from the clarity of the stereo seperation to the audible range of the audio is fantastic. In Silico features some gut-moving lows, some soft, dreamy mids, and some incredible highs. Everything seems to be exactly in its place, leaving everything from the deepest bass to the slightest digital effects sounding clearer than you've probably ever heard them. It's quite something.
The music is quite something too. View From A Stairway is the perfect opening for the album, and a classy introduction into Deepsky's production style. The Mansion World is wonderfully trippy number, while Ride is an an uplifting and catchy track of a quality not heard since the heydays of Underworld. Atia's soft melody contrasts its killer breakbeats perfectly, while Cosmic Dancer will get anybody moving with its subwoofer-breaking bass and almost tribal flavor. Until The End Of The World is a dramatic soundscape of epic proportions.
There are only a handful of issues with this album. The first is the song Smile, the only vocal track, featuring Saffron. The instrumental side is great, but the vocals feel decidedly forced, leaving it with an off-balance feel. The second issue is that the majority of the songs take quite some time to reach their individual peaks and climaxes, leaving you waiting through as many as 3 minutes of beats and build-ups before you get to the melody and real movement of the song. In a 5-6 song, you spend half your time waiting, and this isn't the best approach. That said, the end result is ALWAYS worth the wait on this album.
In Silico is the best debut I've heard since The Crystal Method's Vegas, and shares many similarities with the Method's masterpiece. Energetic, kinetic, and very, very electronic (Don't expect any Dirty Vegas or recent BT "crossover" styled works here), In Silico is a clean, precise album that just happens to get almost everything right. Mixed with a level of attention and filled with layers of detailing that rival BT, Deepsky's baby is a stellar addition to the electronic world, and an instant classic.

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