Excellent introduction to the early days of Steven Wilson and his seminal band Porcupine Tree, with a thoughtful collection of album tracks, b-sides and rarities curated by Wilson himself, with the same attention to detail that we’ve come to expect from his flourishing solo career.
Violinist James Ehnes has firmly established himself as a master of the modern repertoire and to a lesser extent, the Romantic, so his album of Antonio Vivaldi's perennial violin concertos, The Four Seasons, Giuseppe Tartini's "Devil's Trill" Sonata, and Jean-Marie Leclair's "Tambourin" Sonata is an unexpected detour into the Baroque. The fame and popularity of these pieces guarantees Ehnes an audience, and he, like everyone else, shouldn't be criticized for recording them, though his choice of the modern Sydney Symphony Orchestra for the Vivaldi, and Fritz Kreisler's arrangement of the Tartini for violin and piano, suggests that he isn't really trying to compete with most contemporary recordings, least of all the various period-style releases.
John Harle's epic CV includes soundtracks, classical works and drama, all of which feed into the saxophonist's ambitious song cycle about "dark London". Its tales of the Limehouse Ripper, Spring Heeled Jack and the Highgate Vampire are centred a few centuries back, with words from William Blake and John Dee, though most of the lyrics are by Marc Almond, along with Tom Pickard and Iain Sinclair. There are splashes of cabaret and jazz, but the echoing, crepuscular atmosphere is dominated by Almond's impressive neo-operatic singing (some distance from electro-pop!), with a thumping, galloping finale that uses an extract from Blake's "prophetic book" Jerusalem. Dark but dashing.