sat 28/03/2015

New releases on CD & DVD

DVD: The Tales of Hoffmann

Graham Fuller

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s film of Jacques Offenbach’s 1881 opera The Tales of Hoffmann was the Archers duo’s crazily ambitious attempt to create a synaesthetic magical realm abstracted from realism through an immersion in “total art” – music, dance, colour, design – in the austerity Britain of 1951. They triumphed with the magic, though only the individual viewer can say if he or she can “hear” Moira Shearer’s dragonfly dance or “see” soprano Ann Ayars’s aria.The Archers slightly...

CD: The Prodigy - The Day Is My Enemy

Thomas H Green

How many UK Number One albums have there been since the millennium that emanate truly vicious, caustic energy? How many have a furiousness which sets them completely apart? Royal Blood gave it a good whirl last year and Plan B’s Ill Manors in 2012 had dark, abject drive, but nothing has gone anywhere this monstrous assault of an album. Let’s go further. While Metallica are due kudos, and ignoring The Prodigy’s own output, you’d have to go back to Nirvana’s In Utero in 1993 before you hit a...

CD: Polar Bear – Same As You

Matthew Wright

Polar Bear have been re-shaping the musical landscape (the experimental jazz end of it, at least), since 2004, and after a few years’ hibernation...

CD: Hanoi Masters - War Is a Wound, Peace Is a...

Mark Kidel

The music of melancholia takes on varied forms on different continents: the religious spirit and anger of the blues contrasts with the edgy...

DVD: Man of the West

Graham Fuller

The 19 films directed by Anthony Mann between 1950 and 1960 included all 11 of his Westerns – five of them psychologically nuanced vehicles for James...

CD: Motorama – Poverty

Kieron Tyler

Russia’s counterpart to North Britain’s Eighties miserablists harnesses the power of song

CD: Seasick Steve – Sonic Soul Surfer

Guy Oddy

Festival perennial replenishes the soul with good vibes

CD: Laura Marling - Short Movie

Russ Coffey

Introspective songstress reaches for her inner rock chick

DVD: The Homesman

Kieron Tyler

The female view dominates in a bleak and minimal western directed by Tommy Lee Jones

CD: Benjamin Clementine - At Least for Now

Thomas H Green

London-Parisian singer-pianist amazes with his debut

CD: Blancmange – Semi Detached

Barney Harsent

Neil Arthur returns and raises his game with a singular vision

DVD: Roberto Rossellini - The War Trilogy

David Nice

Bombed cities are as much the protagonists as fine actors reliving the war

CD: Lightning Bolt - Fantasy Empire

Guy Oddy

Manic noise-rockers return on top form

CD: Boz Scaggs - A Fool To Care

Mark Kidel

Mostly stirring covers from master of sensuous R&B

CD: Björk - Vulnicura

Heidi Goldsmith

The queen of alt-pop is courageously wrought rather than radical

DVD: Leviathan

Jasper Rees

Andrei Zvyagintsev's tragicomic portrait of Putinism in action

CD: The Rezillos - Zero

Thomas H Green

Long-time-coming second album from Scottish punk rock originals

CD: Madonna - Rebel Heart

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Pop's original goddess proves why she will never be toppled

DVD: The Manchurian Candidate

Kieron Tyler

Cold War-era mind-control thriller is still powerful

CD: Sam Lee & Friends – The Fade in Time

Fisun Güner

Traditional folk ballads remade with boldness and daring musicality

CD: Laura Welsh – Soft Control

Matthew Wright

Solo debut album reveals a voice of dramatic depth and power

Reissue CDs Weekly: Tav Falco

Kieron Tyler

Four decades of fun from the king of wreckabilly

CD: Marc Almond - The Velvet Trail

Thomas H Green

Marc Almond and LA songsmith very nearly create gold

DVD: Pictures of the Old World

Tom Birchenough

Evocative Slovak documentary memorably mixes sacred and secular

CD: Fairport Convention - Myths & Heroes

Katie Colombus

Old school folk-rockers prove they can withstand the test of time

CD: Jimmy Somerville - Homage

Kieron Tyler

Infectious disco tribute from a man who knows the genre inside-out

DVD: Spring in a Small Town

Graham Fuller

Passion hits the brick wall of decency in Fei Mu's 1948 masterpiece

CD: Emily Saunders - Outsiders Insiders

Matthew Wright

Latin rhythms mingle with a cool delivery and cerebral lyrics for a searching, substantial collection

CD: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds – Chasing Yesterday

Barney Harsent

Noel and his High Flying Birds aim for new heights without straying too near the Sun

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DVD: The Tales of Hoffmann

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Tweaked plot and lyrics muddy the waters of Gilbert and Sullivan's tri...