Martin and Wood, Uninvisible, on DVD-Audio and
Everclear, So Much for the Afterglow, on DVD-Audio
Okay, well admit it right up front: before Uninvisible
arrived at our offices wed never heard of Medeski, Martin and Wood. So
we may not be the best to review the album per se.
Ditto for So Much for the Afterglow, our initiation into things Everclear.
So pardon us if we don't get the music as music.
As an aural experience, however, the albums are to differing degrees much easier
And since we are reasonably competent to talk about the recording quality and
the DVD-Audio treatment, that's where we'll focus.
We came away from Uninvisible going Wow! This is reference-quality
Not so for Everclear's album, however. More about that later.
As it turns out, Medeski, Martin and Wood have been around for years and 2002s
Uninvisible is part of a long string of their, as one review called it, trance/funk
albums. Whatever the heck that means.
Actually, that may not be too bad a description. There's definitely funk, and
some of the music sounds quite "spacey" almost reminding one of Emerson, Lake
and Palmer with a little Moody Blues seasoning at times.
Okay; well admit it. Our tastes are reasonably eclectic, running the
gamut from Country and Western to show tunes, hard rock (classic, anyway), big
band, classical and old standards. But weve never really understood jazz,
at least as far as the improvisational stuff is concerned. So as far as were
concerned this, musically, is to us like pearls before swine - with us as the
If you want to find out more about Uninvisible, this link takes you to Pop Matters
Musics site. This link is to Amazon.com, where theres
a collection of fan reviews. They can help put the music into perspective, though
they aren't reviews of the DVD-A version.
Still, we were intrigued by this albums blend of electronic and acoustic
instruments, the old and the new, and even such stuff turntables. And its
been a long time since we heard a mellotron!
Our favorite cut is number two, I Wanna Ride You, which were
also going to use for testing and demonstration of audio equipment.
According to dts, who released this terrific-sounding work, Medeski Martin
and Wood straddle the line between avant-garde improvisation and accessible
groove-based jazz. Maybe that's just marketing hype. Maybe thats why we
find the music weird. And maybe that's why this album started growing
on us, at least a little, the more we listened to it.
dts has released Uninvisible as a DVD-A title with three soundtracks: DVD-A
5.1 surround, dts-ES 6.1 discrete, and PCM stereo. Both surround versions feature
24 bit/48K technology and they both sound spectacular. The PCM version is 16
bit/48K and it also sounds very good.
We liked the surround versions best, which isn't always the case. Many times,
the producers seem to use the surround as a gimmick, and here the medium serves
the music. Of course, there's enough sonic oddity here that lend themselves
to being used as surround effects as well - but more important than that the
main instruments are placed keyboards left, bass center and drums right and
the soundstage is excellent. The DVD-A as listened to via the 6 channel analog
outputs of DVD-A players, and was our favorite by a slight margin; the dts and
PCM tracks use the digital output of your player.
The recording is immaculate; it sounds as if youre in the middle of the
instruments and we were particularly thrilled with the reproduction of the electric
and acoustic bass and the drums. We wish the people who mixed the 5.1 version
of Santana Abraxas
had listened to this mix first for inspiration.
Close your eyes and it almost seems as if youll trip over the drum kit
when you get up if you don't step around it.
Isnt that what you want with high end audio reproduction?
2. I Wanna Ride You
3. Your Name Is Snake Anthony
4. Pappy Check
5. Take Me Nowhere
6. Retirement Song
7. Ten Dollar High
8. Where Have You Been?
10. Nocturnal Transmission
12. First Time Long Time
13. The Edge of Night
14. Off The Table
Label: DTS Entertainment
5.1 Producer: Joe Harley
Everclear - So Much for the Afterglow
Here's another one we shouldn't tackle, but will. This Everclear album makes
us understand why our parents considered the bands on which we grew up, such
as The Who, as noise.
Everclear is pretentious noise. Oh, that isn't fair, and from the other reviews
we've seen the group obviously has a loyal following - so to each his own. But
two of our reviewers are in the age group of Everclear fans and they were the
ones who brought up the "pretentious noise' moniker. So go figure.
Anyway, if you want a couple of reviews of the music itself, this one will take you to one by Music-critic.com,
one is a link to customer reviews on Amazon.com, which is a good way to
get a feel for how fans like the album.
So let's talk about the sound.
The album starts off well, with a nice Beach Boys-like set of harmonies before
launching into the driving title song. Most of the instruments remain up front,
but they've mixed nice ambience to the rears, as well as the occasional instrumental
effect. It's hard to tell the actual quality of the recording since this is
made up for the most part of loud and distorted electric instruments. Not that
there's anything wrong with that! But if you pick out certain aspects, for instance
the percussion, you notice that while the recording is good, it isn't in the
reference quality league of "Uninvisible."
The rear channels appear mostly reserved for a room-stretching reverb as well
as some percussion and effects (we noticed some rhythm guitar - we think it
was rhythn guitar - on the second track coming from the rear, for example).
That's fine. But the vocals are muddy; it sounds as if the singers are eating
the microphones, which it doesn't do a lot for that state-of-the-art audio experience.
On the other hand, there are sections of the album when things aren't quite
so raucous and guitars and other intsruments come through very cleanly, regardless
of the channel from which they emanate.
On the whole, however, the album sounds a tad compressed, which is the last
thing you want in high resolution audio. Oh, it isn't as bad as those early
CD's of old records...
Once again, we liked the DVD-A and dts-ES tracks the best; they spread sound
around the room better, letting us hear individual instruments and sounds better.
That said, the stereo track is still good - but it doesn't fill the room as
well unless you use one of the effects settings built into your preamp or receiver.
The audio choices are 24/48 DVD-A 5.1 surround and dts-ES discrete, with 16/48
Extras include two music videos ("Father of Mine" and "Everything To Everyone"
in dts-ES) and there's a fourteenth "hidden" song "Hating Your for Christmas"
from the original album.
One nice thing about Everclear on DVD-A is that the high resolution format
is perfect for playing stuff loud, and here this album succeeds very well. One
time, we put it on right after a remastered CD of "Who's Next" and the difference
in "punch" was night and day.
It really made us want a DVD-A of "Who's Next!"
1. So Much for the Afterglow
2. Everything to Everyone
4. Normal Like You
5. I Will Buy You a New Life
6. Father of Mine
7. One Hit Wonder
8. El Distorto de Melodica
10. White Men in Black Suits
12. Why I Don't Believe in God
13. Like a California King
Label: DTS Entertainment
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