NOW TV Box [Product Review]

NOW TV Box & Remote
NOW TV Box & Remote

Programming & Channel Listings

Powered by Sky is the tagline embedded atop this tiny little box. There are three different passes offered with the initial purchase. Firstly there is the 2-month movies pass, which will give access to some 1,000+ movies and 16 premieres a month. Secondly we have the 3 month-entertainment pass, which gives you access to some 13 channels “you won’t find on Freeview”. And lastly, there is the highly coveted 2-day Sky Sports pass; yes you read that right, 2-day Sky Sports pass.

When you first turn on your NOW TV box it will ask you to connect to your Wi-Fi router, and upon connecting you will then need to sign in, or create an account by going to nowtv.co.uk, and that is also where you active your pass.

Upon activating your pass you’re pretty forced to subscribe to that very same package, effective immediately when your pass runs out. You can however always cancel your subscription.

Build

The NOW TV box makes use of a plain white plastic body with a black base. This gives it a ‘white goods’ feel, but in actuality you pay a premium for each of the various subscription packages on offer. Similarly, the remote also makes use of a glossy white plastic body with a black upper tip.

Though it looks cheap, this little box does have it’s benefits in that it is made from a very solid plastic and it is rather light. It’s easy to see why its attractive and at the same time easy to overlook.

User Interface & Controls

In terms of the graphic user interface, Roku, the creators of the NOW TV box opted for a simple yet sleek tile icon design.

Though sleek and well designed, the GUI does not respond well to the remote control if triggered from afar. The box needs to be positioned in a fairly open space without anything interfering with the signal.

The remote control has 13 buttons controlling functions such as apps, home screen, d-pad and options, amongst other key controls. Absent however, are the volume control buttons, so this means that you have to get up and control the volume on your speakers.

Value for £££

Though offering three different passes to choose from you when you initially buy the box, it is just another streaming device without the Sky’s catch up and live stream offerings.

At £10.99 a week for a Sky Sports pass, it’s hard to justify the exuberant price seeing as Sky Sports with any of Sky’s TV bundles is an extra £25 per month. To match that you’d have to pay £43.96 a month for a NOW TV pass.

At £6.99 a month and £9.99 a month respectively, the entertainment pass, and the movies pass both come at a slightly more reasonable price. You will however, have to take into consideration the monthly broadband bill.

When you take away the premium Sky offerings and the ridiculously priced Sky sports passes at £6.99 a day or £10.99 a week, then what you have is an easily replaceable catch up tv box.

Verdict; 3/5

For –

The various on demand apps such as the BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and Youtube.

The ability to search for programmes by channel & programme listings.

The 3 different premium Sky packages to choose from.

Against –

Being forced to subscribe to the £6.99 monthly subscription once your free pass expires.

How unreliable the remote control can be, unless aimed directly at the box.

Flying Lotus – You’re Dead! [Album Review]

Flying Lotus You're Dead Album Cover
Flying Lotus You’re Dead Album Cover

Between running Brainfeeder Records, scoring films and performing to sold out crowds at Coachella, it’s somewhat flabbergasting that Steve Ellison still finds time to release a full length studio album. Otherwise, known as Flying Lotus, the man has come a long way since first having his music featured on Adult Swim all those moons ago.

Maturity is perhaps the simplest word to use when describing the sound of one of Warp‘s most foremost composers and producers. In practice, however, you’ll find that it’s not that simple. Songs such as Never Catch Me however, encapsulate this maturity more so than others.

Whilst the constants throughout his career have always been down to his experimental nature, it is those very same experiments that have proven to be the variables. This is no were else as present as it is in Turkey Dog Coma, a Jazz laden medley. Thundercat’s bass fingerings are ever present in all the madness that this album has to offer. This provides a familiar element, which however is contrasted by the chanting vocals and tons of specious reverb.

Coronus, The Terminator is by definition, your quintessential Flying Lotus. But it also manages to bridge the gap between his earlier, more down-tempo works and his newer sound, which is more spacious and robust.

In a world where trends dominate mainstay pop culture, it takes something truly special in order to stand out from the crowd. This is a bit of a conundrum, seeing as any step away from the norm is always feared to alienate the majority of mainstream listeners. Once again, Flying Lotus somehow manages to expand his horizons whilst exercising the pulling power of featuring the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Hip Hop legend Snoop Dogg. You’re Dead is truly in a league, all of its own.

French For Cartridge – Picture Negative [Single Review]

French For Cartridge 45 cover

Spawned from the educational haven that is Goldsmiths, French For Cartridge has garnered favourable reviews in the past. Artrocker previously described the female/ male duo “like Mary Poppins on an acid trip.”

Now biding their time on Dinner With Daisy Records, the  duo has several releases under its belt including 2 albums. Their 2009 release of the OOH! And Picture Negative 45 single gives an interesting glimpse into an act that’s self described as “an attempt to create atonal pop music”.

Picture Negative is a song best described as the sound track to an early nineties romantic comedy. Driven primarily by raw electric guitar riffs, the song has an air of “reminiscence” about it, in a way that it instantly transports you back into the aforementioned era.

Monday Night Blues – Open Mic Night – The Orange Rooms, Southampton

So on Monday we decided to attend our first open mic outing of the year. After sifting through tons of metadata on various open mic sites, we settled upon the Orange Rooms‘ Monday Night Blues open mic night in the heart of Southampton.

For an open mic on a Monday night, we’ll have to admit that it was rather busy. The atmosphere was an interesting blend of calm and anticipation.

The organisers of this night also happened to compose the very awesome house band. In addition to this there was a variety of different acts from the surrounding areas, including yours truly, Kudzai.

Having enjoyed a warm, yet exciting debut night at this venue, you can certainly expect us to become regular faces there.

Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!

Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

We finally got our hands on a copy of Fly-Lo’s You’re Dead. It features the likes of Herbie Hancock, Kamasi Washington, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg and Thundercat, amongst many others.

Based on what we’ve already heard, we’re very excited about this album. We truly can’t wait to add the 12″ version to our collection!

We’ll be publishing a full review of this album very soon! But for now why don’t you check out this single review we did of Never Catch Me featuring Kendrick Lamar.

Boards of Canada – Hi Scores [EP Review]

boards of canada

With nearly 30 years in the music industry, the Scottish brothers known as Boards of Canada have become revered for their ambient music. Hard hitting drums are a present factor in most Boards of Canada releases and the introductory number and the title track Hi Scoresis no exception. With a real break-beat feel to it, the atmospheric and somewhat melancholic pad synthesizer provides a stark contrast.

Turquoise Hexagon Sun showcases a very gradual progression, and ever present is a drum break backed by an eerie pad combination, and interesting is the manner in which it has all been arranged. Whereas, Hi Scores was more formal in its arrangement, Turquiose Hexagon Sun oozes sophistication, with its background chatter samples.

Nlogax paints a different portrait with its use of a more upbeat drum arrangement, textured sounds and countless synth motifs. June 9th is by far the most upbeat song on this EP. Phase effects, synthesizers, and slightly metallic sounding drums provide the most progressive of musical backdrops. Motifs run in tandem whilst seemingly never clashing nor contradicting one another.

Whilst June 9th was more upbeat, Seeya Later is a more a laid back affair. The saturated drum sound gives it an 80s vibe, whilst the pad synths add a sense mystique. Everything You Do Is A Balloon ends the story just as it began, with a great sense of space and ambience.

Hi Scores encapsulates the essence of Boards of Cananda, and as such, is a more than worthwhile investment. In this EP we are treated to a certain degree of variety from ambient arrangements to more upbeat music.

A Brief Look Back At The Global Music Industry In 2013

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So according to IPFI, 51% of global music industry revenue came from physical format sales, 39% from digital channels, 7% from performance rights and 2% from synchronisation.

What’s in store for the future of the global music industry you might ask? Prosperity and growth are most certainly on the agenda.

Whilst still accounting for the vast amount of global music industry revenue, the physical format share shrunk from 60% in 2011 to 51% in 2012 and remained so in 2013

By looking closer at the overall picture we begin to see a new model taking shape. A significant part of the digital revenue came from subscription services, including free-to-consumer and paid-for services, which for the first time in 2013 exceeded the $1 billion mark after having grown by 51.3%. The overall digital market grew by 4.3% and was worth $5.9 billion that year.

As more digital music services become available and established providers maintain growth, we will continue to see a decrease in physical format revenue, and the continual growth of digital revenue streams. Upon initial analysis, this growth does not appear to be keeping up with the decrease of its physical counterpart, however, it is worth noting that in 2013, the digital channels accounted for more than a 3rd of global music industry revenue.

The total worth of the global music industry in 2013 was $15 billion. Going back to that digital channels revenue figure of $5.9 billion, we now begin to see a more complete picture. Whilst physical format sales seem to be dropping in avalanche like proportions, digital revenue continues a steady and healthy growth.

Long gone are the days of piercing pessimism, which can only mean that music industry pioneers and leaders are more focused on, or at least trying to fine tune what at first appeared to be a short term fix to music piracy, into a long term model for a newer and more sophisticated global music industry.

Lapalux – Puzzle [Single Review]

Lapalux album cover
Lapalux album cover

Soulful is hardly a new word to use when describing the lush sounds of Lapalux. Puzzle is a sultry blend of sounds, motifs, effects and otherworldly textures.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Lapalux is how he continues to carve out his own niche. Even more noteworthy is the fact that his label mates are artists such as Tokimonsta, Flying Lotus, Thundercat and The Gaslamp Killer, each a masterful musician in their own unique way.

You can listen to Puzzle in the embedded player below along with a selection of other songs from his forthcoming album, Lustmore. Alternatively you can click the direct link below the embedded player, which will take you directly to the song on Lapalux’s Soundcloud account.

Percussions – 2011 until 2014 [Album Review]

Percussion 2011 2014
Percussion 2011 until 2014 Album Artwork

With the current music scene saturated due to a plethora of record labels, both independent and major, many artists are afforded the opportunity to reach a global audience at a very low cost, at least in comparison to the physical format years. One label that has done so to maximum effect is Text Records.

The label, started in 2001 by Four Tet, recently released an album by Percussions (Four Tet) titled 2011 until 2014, which is a compilation of all of his Text Records 12” releases under that pseudonym, and other material from around the same time. Whilst Text Records does not have its own dedicated website, the label has been making waves in other areas, as Four Tet was representing his company at the Independent Label Market event in London on the 28th of March 2015.

February 2014 is one of the few songs on the album that was previously unreleased. Starting off very minimally, it rapidly progresses with a wide array of different synthesizer and pad sounds. An ever-changing piece, this is one song that simply refuses to slow down. This progressive nature is epitomized in the sudden introduction of a very imposing hi hat and kick drum at the mid way mark.

The song Blatant Water Cannon is unique in that it uses the echo effect to enrich the synthesizer pad and vocal sample, both of which are driving instruments in the song, creating an enthralling staccato effect. The song repeats the same patterns for a few minutes before briefly bursting into life with the introduction of an ‘arppegiated’ synthesizer and string pad.

October 2011 is a very interesting song in that it brilliantly blends a very imposing synthesizer with the rhythm of percussion. Although not comprised of much in terms of unheard material, we are treated to an album previously not available in this form neither on vinyl, cd or the digital formats (mp3/WAV). 2011 Until 2014 can be easily downloaded from Percussions’ Bandcamp page.