Album reviews: British Sea Power | Heather Masse and Dick Hyman

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Our roundup of the latest releases

British Sea Power

Machineries Of Joy

Rough Trade, £13.99

***

Like so many things these days, the fact that this band have the word “British” in their name is no longer a quality kitemark, guaranteeing a lumpen mediocrity at best.

When the Brighton outfit get into their quirky step on the likes of Monsters Of Sunderland there is a tantalising glimpse of original intent. Radio Goddard’s intriguing title offers much more than it actually delivers. A potential cult classic turns out to be a bit of a damp squib, with none of the cool of The Subway Sect or Jean Luc in evidence.

Loving Animals promises more, with a psychedelic wig-out winding things up.

Download this: Monsters Of Sunderland, Spring Has Sprung

Heather Masse and Dick Hyman

Lock My Heart

Red House Records, £15.99

****

American piano virtuoso Dick Hyman (newly turned 86) has joined forces with the alto from the popular folk singing group The Wailin’ Jennies for this unsurprisingly classy duo album. Masse has a luscious, rich voice and refreshingly unfussy style, and serves up lovely interpretations of an eclectic selection of songs including two original numbers and two sublime Kurt Weill ballads. Only the title track, which closes the CD, disappoints since Masse morphs into what sounds like Betty Boop. Hyman remains as elegant, imaginative and dynamic as ever.

Download this: September Song, I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good

Eamon Friel

The Streets Forget

Thran Records, visit www.eamonfriel.com

****

Out of Derry comes the latest album of songs from the creative pen of the quiet man of Northern Irish songwriting. His aesthetic is wider and deeper than the Troubles, and carries a wide-eyed wonder at nature’s beauty, life’s inequalities and the ineffability of memory and affairs of the heart. The opening song celebrates a power cut at a glittering fairground, and the wonders of the now revealed starlit sky. Friel says: “Walking west along the road I heard a fairground carousel. I danced a tango. I sang a lullaby. I demanded a better future. I remembered young love. I spoke to a man who had little to say. I talked to the devil. I looked at the stars. I watched a man find courage. I saw clouds in a wet road. I met a man fallen on hard times. I wrote a song about each of these things. That’s what songs are for. Eleven songs for an album.” Eddie O’Donnell leads a quality, measured accompaniment on guitar and keyboards.

Download this: All The Fun Of The Fair

Eleni Karandrou

Concert in Athens

ECM 476 4984, £14.99

*****

The Greek composer Eleni Karandrou is best known for her scores for films by the late Theo Angelopoulos, including Eternity And A Day, which won the 1998 Palme D’Or at Cannes (several of his films having previously been nominated).

Angelopoulos’ cinematic style employs long takes with minimal movement of the camera to create often complex scenes; Karandrou’s music echoes that approach using carefully measured music full of evocative themes that quickly gain the attention and hold it. Her theatre music – here represented by extracts from Death Of A Salesman, Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? and The Glass Menagerie – is written in the same thoughtful vein.

Karandrou’s compositions, often reminiscent of those by Alberto Iglesias Fernández-Berridi for the quite differently styled films of Pedro Almodóvar, are surprisingly soft-spoken, highly effective and hugely enjoyable. Well worth hearing.

Download this: Eternity Theme

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