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Sunday, February 3
Woo - Roni Size is re-editing New Forms!

Sometimes I'm a little sceptical of artists when they "re-edit" a classic album and rerelease it, but I have faith in the Size. He doesn't mess with a classic formula, especially one which is good enough to win a Mercury Music Prize (before it became shit).

I got this email from the V Cycle shop the other day. D&B fans rejoice!

Roni Size/Reprazent’s New Forms was a benchmark for not just the drum 'n’ bass genre that it leapt from, but for all types of electronic music.

Released a decade ago in 1997, the album’s title was apt with a sound that surpassed any previous drum 'n’ bass efforts and brought the genre to a whole new audience. After catapulting its creators to music’s top table, the crowning achievement was winning the Mercury Prize in the same year, beating the likes of Radiohead, Primal Scream and two of Size’s dance music peers, Chemical Brothers and Prodigy.

To mark this anniversary, Roni Size has returned to re-edit New Forms.
"The first generation of heads who were there with the rise of Reprazent & Roni Size will be able to reminisce over the last decade with the classics Brown Paper Bag, Share The Fall & Heroes. The generation of those who missed it will be able to appreciate the album with the new coat of armour I have added to the original tracks. I think fans of the original album always appreciated what we did with the technology of the day. This latest version shows what is possible now."

Three brand new tracks will also be included, including the single Don’t Hold Back, which manages to not only sound like a perfect bedfellow for the original thirteen tracks on New Forms but is also thoroughly contemporary. Not surprising perhaps, considering the timeless quality that Roni Size/Reprazent captured through the likes of Heroes, Share The Fall and the top 20 single Brown Paper Bag. New single, Don’t Hold Back will be released on March 17th, two weeks before the reissue of New Forms.

Also in February, Roni Size/Reprazent will be touring the UK with support from Inner City Dwellers:

Feb 7th Manchester Club Academy
Feb 9th Birmingham Que
Feb 13th Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Feb 14th Leeds Stylus
Feb 15th Sheffield Plug
Feb 16th Liverpool Barfly
Feb 18th Brighton Digital
Feb 19th London Scala
Feb 20th Bristol Thekla

Keep your eyes peeled for this one... The original album's a must-own, and this re-edit should be a big release for 2008. Excellent.

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Monday, January 21
Come fly with me...

Some inspirational and mind-boggling photography: here's a panoramic collage taken by Charles M. Duke (Lunar module pilot on the Apollo 16 moon voyage):

There's tons more imagery and multimedia on NASA's Apollo 16 multimedia pages. I've been meaning to make a note of this page for at least a month now!

And while you're perusing these images, you can go download and listen to some of the music from some classic Nintendo games, courtesy of of USF Central (if you didn't own an N64 in the 90s, you missed out!)

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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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Friday, September 14
KT Tunstall and her (great) album's Drastic Master

KT Tunstall's music was a bit of a late grower on me, but I really enjoy listening to her voice and her all-round musicality. Plus she's Scottish, and I have a bit of a soft spot for her. ;) Anyway, like any true music tech student, the first thing I do after I get the (limited edition gatefold with bonus DVD!) album back to my house is crack it out of the packaging and stick it in the computer, rip to PCM audio and go analyse the mastering in Audition.

I was a bit disappointed; I could hear it was a loud master right from the off but within two seconds of Track 1, we have digital clip on the left channel. The tracks are very well engineered (as you'd expect from any second album under the EMI imprint) but they're ALL TOO LOUD!


Get the message? Fortunately the RMS (the 'perceived') values aren't too high, but they do peak quite high, a bit too high for this kind of music. Plus there's audible pumping at certain times due to the radio-friendly compression, but it's a very clear mixdown which leans in its favour. Her voice is well placed in the mix, the backing vocals are just a smidge too high in the mix for me though, but the clarity and tonality of the guitars is the deciding plus point.

One of the slightly disappointing (but to be expected) aspects of this second album is its obvious 'studio' quality. It's a little to clean, a little too crisp for me, a little too sanitised. Her first album, Eye To The Telescope, was recorded at NAM Recording Studios - just a few miles away from where I lived, and grew up, for almost 15 years, in a small village called Holt (near Trowbridge, Wiltshire). For more info, see the Bath Venue Musicians' Studio Guide pages. If you ever see video footage of the setup, you can see how much more of an intimate setting it was when compared to a larger pro studio, and how the acoustic of the small performance space really lent itself to her musical and performance style.  Her first album is a really gorgeous piece of studio work as much as it is a musical work of art, and her second album suffers from the bigger budget - the bigger, in-house recording studio contracts will have made sure of that (she will have been told to record at xyz venue as EMI have a contract with them for job lots of studio time, most likely). This is unfortunate, but I guess there's not much we, the listeners, can do about it.

My one regret with Drastic Fantastic? Her voice has too much reverb on it at times, and it sounds a little too polished (even when holding album 2 up against album 1!). Though, I suppose if you've listened to her first album as many times as I have, and had many hours to scrutinise its every little feature and peculiarity, nothing will ever sound the same unless it was recorded in the same venue then mixed and mastered by the same producer and engineer respectively. Still, there's not much to complain about at all with her second album. It's a great toe tapper, and it has enough radio-friendly tunes to give Tunstall (well, EMI) a decent amount of radio play for promo purposes whilst keeping the album-centric listeners (like me), who couldn't give a flying barrel of monkeys about her chart placement, happy with the same kind of content as we received in the first album.

Even taking into consideration all the different influences factoring into the sound of KT Tunstall's second album, it's still a great disc, and I don't feel like I've been ripped off by buying it - a problem which often plagues me post-purchase! (Buyer's guilt? Realisation that I've been mugged by buying awful quality music that shouldn't, by rights, have even been pressed to disc and published? heh.) Done right though, there's a lot to be said for the back-room-studio-recorded album, and Eye To The Telescope is testament to that! Drastic Fantastic compares favourably, and Tunstall's deliciously soulful voice is a treat to listen to. Annoyingly, the ASLAP (AS Loud As Possible) syndrome has struck again at the mastering stage, most likely thanks to EMI saying "LOUDER, WE NEED LOUDER BECAUSE LOUDER EQUALS BETTER" at the mastering engineer. Shame, because the whole point of CDs in the first place were that they could preserve a larger dynamic range than vinyl, thereby allowing more musicality to come through in the recorded tracks. I bet the master tapes (well, master Pro Tools sessions ;) sound far more dynamic than the end result on CD, but I guess we'll never know for definite.

Top tip: if you prefer the "Unplugged" KT Tunstall, check out her Acoustic Extravaganza album (which I like to think of as album 1.5), it makes a great listen if you like her stuff.

And the super-shorter version of my review? Well, it's a three-worder: buy on sight. :)

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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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Sunday, June 24
Glastonbury 2007: another glorious mudfest

Image credit: Getty Images, from ABC.net.au

So, I've been following this year's Glasto with a raised eyebrow - as it turns out, Eavis' plans for shoring up his flood defences worked... to an extent... but he still needed JCBs in to dig out the area in front of the Pyramid Stage to fill it with straw.

Reminds me of when I last went in 2004! I first went in 2003, and it was just glorious weather - blazing sun all day, I got so sunburnt it was ridiculous. 2004 I went with my mum, as she'd never been, and it rained... And it poured! Nevertheless, we had a good time.

My housemate's at this year's Glastonbury with her family - she's coming back on Tuesday, so we're all having to wait to clean the carpets and stuff until after she's taken off all her muddy clothes and tramped through the house! Our tenancy agency (Campbell Property) are sneaky bastards, they put cream carpet through the whole of the house and painted all the walls matte white so EVERY mark shows up so clearly. And then they want £150 to clean the carpets (and loads of money for just about everything else that could possibly be cleaned or painted) unless we do it ourselves! The maddest thing is that we're here next year too, but we still have to move out... What a crock.

I was thinking about how maybe climate change would force a change to the date, but Michael Eavis was adamant about the dates for the festival remaining as they are so they coincide with the Summer Solstice, and I fully agree with that. The spirit of Glastonbury is something very special, and whilst I'm not a spiritual person I can acknowledge that other people are - and that in turn lends to the overall feel of the place during the weekend. I'm pretty sure the festival being in the Vale of Avalon, at the convergence of several ley lines, has something to do with it.

Eavis had this to say about this year's festival:
On the final day of the Glastonbury Festival 2007, Michael Eavis had a few words to say about how the Festival has gone this year: “It’s gone very well, in spite of the rain and in spite of the mud. The drains have actually worked, believe it or not. Someone called me from Spain and said they would swap all the sun they had for the Glastonbury culture.

“It’s been a fantastic weekend – from John Fogerty to The Killers and the Arctic Monkeys.”

Asked about the size and timing of the Festival, Michael said: “For the first time in my life I went up in a helicopter yesterday, and I was amazed to see that there was still spare camping space and car parking space.

“We can’t change the date of the Festival because we’re guided by the Summer Solstice, and we have no control over that. We’re going to stay where we are – where we’ve been for 37 years.”

Michael also had praise for daughter Emily, who has been in charge of the Festival’s new Park area this year. He said: “Emily’s efforts in the Park have been very good. She supports me a lot, but we disagree a lot about bands. This year I asked her if she wanted to do an area of her own. I think it’s been brilliant and works really well. She’s done a good job. We’ll give her the Park for a few more years and see how she does before giving her more responsibility.”

Questions were asked about reports of the crowds calling for The Killers to be turned up on Saturday night, and Michael apologised for sound levels of the PA.

On the I Count campaign launched at the Festival, Michael said: “I Count has had over 50,000 signatures, it’s great – we’ve been hammering away doing our bit.”

So what about the music for 2008? “We’ve already got headline acts for next year, but it’s not Muse or U2.”

I look forward to (hopefully) going in 2008!

Right, time to pack up some more of my stuff and head home for the weekend. Only one week left until I have to start working over the summer again to help pay for next year's rent.

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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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