Life and Style

Slovakian designer Martin Vargic has mapped out the major sites of the web - click the image above or the gallery below for more detail

Iran cabinet ministers all sign up to Facebook - despite social media site being banned

Hope of a more open approach to the internet from new government after 15 ministers sign-up

Album: Jonas Kaufmann, The Best of Jonas Kaufmann (Decca)

Though now acknowledged as a modern master of Wagnerian interpretation, Jonas Kaufmann first made his reputation playing a range of French and German operatic heroes for conductors such as Abbado, Pappano and Gardiner.

What we lost with the dial-up internet connection

There was a quality in its slowness that we sacrificed in the move to broadband

Dogs take 'selfies' at Battersea Cats And Dogs Home in bid to attract new owners

Dogs at Battersea Cats and Dogs Home have been taking ‘selfies’ in a bid to attract new owners with their pouty profiles.

Claire Perry

Teach children about web porn, says Tory MP Claire Perry

NSPCC research claims children believe internet pornography dictates how they should behave in a sexual relationship

Using computer technology ‘could save state £10bn a year’

Civil servants could cut the cost of government by £70bn in seven years just by making more use of computer technology, a think-tank report out today claims.

Five questions about: Getting online

Isn't that a picture of World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks?

Album review: Paul McCreesh, Britten: War Requiem (Signum Classics)

The latest in Paul McCreesh's presentations of large-scale oratorios again uses the massed forces of the Gabrieli Consort & Players with the Wrocław Philharmonic Choir – more than 300 performers in all. The result is another triumphant realisation of a complex, multi-layered work, in which Benjamin Britten contrasted arrangements of the traditional Latin texts, with more modern passages featuring William Owen's war poetry. It's a dynamic most shockingly effective in the “Dies Irae” section, where the vaunting, “wondrous sound” of its choir and trumpets is summarily dismissed by “voices of old despondency resigned”, before the pieties of divine expectation are routed by the cavalier resignation of “Out there, we've walked quite friendly up to Death”.

Album review: Nine Inch Nails, Hesitation Marks (Polydor)

The album title apparently refers to the tentative blade-testing marks made by potential suicides and self-harmers, and the music remains a suitably scarified blend of electronic noise and prickly synthetic beats, at its best evoking the urgent trepidation of “Copy Of A”, a fretful piece about loss of identity and programmed responses. The scuttling pulses and itchy rhythms drive Trent Reznor's explorations of alienation, loneliness, self-hatred, surveillance paranoia and mind control, which on tracks like “Satellite” and “Various Methods Of Escape” recall Cabaret Voltaire's pioneering work of three decades ago, albeit more slickly sculpted for chart action A nice place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live here.

Album review: The King's Consort/ Robert King, Monteverdi: Heaven And Earth (Vivat)

Originally recorded in 2002 for a private client, this album of Monteverdi's love songs is peerlessly performed and faultlessly recorded. It opens with the “Toccata” from Orfeo, a triumphal fanfare, before vocal works explore Monteverdi's innovations - his use of dissonance to evoke the pains of love, and devising of the descending ground-bass figure underscoring the soprano of “Lamento Della Ninfa”, Carolyn Sampson's lead punctuated by male voices. Sampson is clear over waves of harpsichord, strings and horns in “Dal Mio Permesso”, while the interplay of tenors Charles Daniels and James Gilchrist in “Zefiro Torna” is a playful pairing of noble timbres.

Album review: Antonio Pappano, Sacred Verdi (Warner Classics)

Shifting attention momentarily from Verdi's operas, Antonio Pappano and the orchestra and chorus of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia here focus on the composer's religious works, mostly drawn from late in his career. It's a smoothly-sequenced set, opening with the hushed, austere pieties of the acappella “Ave Maria”, a choral work set around an unorthodox scale, before moving into the impassioned, majestic tragedy of “Stabat Mater”, which nonetheless retains a certain pious reserve despite the large forces involved. Closing the album is “Libera Me”, originally intended as Verdi's part of a collaborative mass commemorating Rossini - an idea abandoned for financial reasons.

Album review: Neko Case, The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You... (Anti-)

Emerging from a three-year bout of bereavement-induced grief and depression, Neko Case here offers a song-cycle that takes her from the looming portents of “Wild Creatures”, through a series of allusive ruminations on identity, anxiety, womanhood and home, finally reaching closure of sorts with a paean to the uplifting sound of “Ragtime”. It's a journey full of twists and turns, mapped out by Case and producer Tucker Martine in dense, often claustrophobic arrangements, the anxious lyrics trapped by layers of instruments in songs like “Night Still Comes” and “Man”. Even the acappella track “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu”seems choked with layered backing vocals. Not an easy listen, but a satisfying one.

Album review: Babyshambles, Sequel To The Prequel (Parlophone)

Like Trent Reznor, Pete Doherty remains ever faithful to his own concerns and his own musical style; but unlike Reznor, he overestimates the ramshackle charm of Babyshambles, which grows threadbare long before the end of Sequel To The Prequel. The bawled slur that passes for Doherty's vocals is less agreeable the older he gets, while the flaccid grunge plaints and raggedy punk thrashes have diminishing appeal. The best track by a country mile is the reggae skank “Doctor No”, whose tight, persuasive groove sounds like a different band entirely. Sadly, it's a lonely outpost of focused spirit here.

Album review: Goodie Mob, Age Against The Machine (Warner Brothers)

In the 14 years since World Party, CeeLo Green has entirely overshadowed his former Goodie Mob friends, and that dynamic dominates this comeback reunion album. Which is no bad thing: whether he's blurting out a lyric about “white power” over a Moody Blues sample (“Power”) or joyously remembering “my very first white girl” (“Amy”), CeeLo burns with a fierce creative fire. Luckily, he's managed to hoist his old bandmates to a comparable level, and the result is a set of gripping, euphoric grooves carrying raps that indicate a new-found maturity.

With a dark, autumnal colour palette and plenty of quirky touches, the Abigail Ahern Debenham's collection launches on 1 September. It includes this schnauzer cushion. £40, and a rather fine hare table lamp, £85, debenhams.com

Dark side of the room

Abigail Ahern’s new range for Debenhams blends quirky animal life with darker tones. It isn’t what you’d call bright and breezy, says Trish Lorenz

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