Albums wot I woz rather excited about but …

At the end of last year I posted about three albums coming out in the first few months of 2015 that I was really excited about. They are all out now, but I was just reflecting on the fact that actually I ended frankly “meh” about all three of them! None of them are bad albums, but they’re not standout albums either. The word “solid” mostly applies!

I tend to judge albums by whether they’ve multiple tracks that I want to listen to individually on repeat, and whether I can listen to the whole album on repeat for days, or weeks, or even months, and not get bored. A great example is my favourite album from last year, Spires – The Whisper, that I’m still listening to regularly now and still loving!

My summary review of these three anticipated albums would be …

  • Beardfish – +4626-COMFORTZONE – something of a backward step to the more traditional prog of earlier Beardfish. Personally I enjoyed the step forward and heavier vibe on their previous album The Void, but that’s all but forgotten with this album. Few contemporary bands are better at doing traditional prog than them, but no tracks grab me particularly.
  • Sylosis – Dormant Heart – pretty much more of the same from Sylosis. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but there’s nothing particularly exciting on the album. No “wow” riffs or solos, just consistently technically well executed metal. I’ll still go and see them live when they tour the album later in the year though!
  • Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase. – a slightly more positive response for this one, but again nothing that really stands out of me. I totally loved Steve’s previous album The Raven That Refused to Sing, and there were some bits that I could listen to for hours. For example, Drive Home is one of the most achingly beautiful songs ever, and its EBow-esque (actually a Sustainiac pickup) guitar solo is an eyes-closed few minutes of musical overload, that I’ve played numerous times. Nothing on Hand. Cannot. Erase. has that staying power!

Oh well! I have found some absolutely corking albums this year in lieu of the above though, and I’ll post about those some time soon.

As if excuse is needed, here’s the beautiful Drive Home with its equally beautiful video! Watch it at full screen 1080P if you can!


The Machinist’s House

With the decline of the huge derelict sites of yore, and hence the joy of spending a whole day exploring a truly massive hospital or industrial site increasingly rare, the exploring community seem to be turning to smaller locations for their regular fixes. All hail the growing trend of the derp house! I have explored the occasional local small derelict house in the past, but this is the first time I’ve made a significant journey to one.

MachinistsHouse-12The house was originally discovered by somebody by accident whilst on the way to another site in the tail end of last year, and was given the title “The Machinist’s House” in recognition of the surprising contents they discovered. In a smart and busy village in the Surrey commuter belt lies a brooding two bedroomed house filled with, amongst other things, frankly massive typesetting and printing machinery. In death of the house (and one assumes possibly the occupant) the neighbours must hate its derelict state given their quaint cottages and neat gardens; in life you’ve got to assume they possibly weren’t keen on it either since it must have made a serious racket (plus given the amount of junk outside this was never a neat quaint household)!

MachinistsHouse-18The actual history is scant, though a significant amount remains in terms of addressed mail and other clues if somebody really wanted to find out more. Apparently over the last five months plenty has disappeared courtesy of exploring “magpies” but it’s still full of loads of random stuff. The printing appears to have been pretty serious, and you’ve got assume small scale commercial rather than simply a hobby. Quite how the machinery was installed, shoe-horned into the lean-to conservatory and shed outside, is unclear. Other things you can glean is that somebody who lived there was a dab hand with a sewing machine, though the large number of much older machines originally inside is now greatly reduced it appears. At some point one of the bedrooms was a child’s, with numerous stickers on the door and varied trinkets. Another hobby was amateur radio, with postcards from other enthusiasts with their call signs on and an aerial unceremoniously dumped in the bath. Also, whilst it might be fair to assume the owner was older, they were into computing with various bits of old PCs and hard disks about. Oh … and an occupant clearly hid various frankly “saucy” videos outside in the shed!

MachinistsHouse-34The walls are covered in tarry grime – I didn’t touch them to determine whether it was from cigarettes or something to do with the heat and oil of the printing press; the curtains are filthy and tattered; some windows long broken and repaired with plastic; the kitchen disgusting. Everything tells me that this house was like this in life as well as death, and contents including IKEA bags and PlayStation controls back up that it hasn’t been empty perhaps as long as its state suggests! Structurally it’s sound though and not leaking, and so could easily be on “Homes Under the Hammer” and fixed up with a rewire, new kitchen and bathroom, and head-to-toe redecoration!

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Federal-Mogul camshafts

It’s always a little bit strange when you discover sizeable factories out in the sticks! You’ve got to assume its closure had a profound impact on the local villages!?

FederalMogul-14The Weyburn Works near Elstead developed during the first half of last century, and by 1937 employed 300 people manufacturing lifeboat engines and parts for cars and planes. Later it merged to become Weyburn Bartel, before being bought by global car component manufacturer Federal-Mogul and trading as Federal-Mogul Camshafts Ltd. As part of their growth strategy Federal-Mogul had also acquired another UK company who was one of the world’s largest manufacturers of asbestos-based products. That acquisition rather bit them back courtesy of liabilities for asbestos-related claims, driving the main USA-based Federal-Mogul company into Chapter 11 bankruptcy between 2002 and 2008, with its UK subsidiaries similarly under management by administrators. Whilst the company overall weathered the storm, sadly the impact on the Weyburn Works was more serious. About half its 140 strong workforce were made redundant in 2007, and despite the site continuing to supply customers including Perkins and BMW, the remainder followed with the closure of the site in late 2008.

I’ve not been out and about for ages, and with a trip up the A3 needed for other reasons, decided to get up early and pop into a couple of small sites on the way. Also I’ve a new bargain Canon EF-S 10-18mm wide angled lens that I bought last month and wanted to try it out properly!

FederalMogul-60I’ll be totally honest … if you’re passing and have an hour to kill do take a look, but don’t go out of your way for Federal-Mogul! A frankly empty and smashed up site, and most of the few bits and pieces that appeared interesting in early reports from several years ago have now gone. In particular there was a piano, that apparently moved around site, that has now definitely met its maker! The site had its own social club, and the space above that was clearly let out as a trading unit, latterly for “Love Stone” selling expensive marble floor tiles. Ironically mounted samples of those are some of the few things that aren’t smashed up!

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