Anybody bought this new chill-out dvd-audio yet?

Discussion in 'Music' started by LanceJ, Aug 17, 2003.

  1. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    It's from some English guy named Dave Tipper. I finally saw it at Best Buy recently, and it was only $15.99.

    It's a totally brand new recording, done at 5.1 Entertainment's studios. It also includes seven videos.

    Here's a preliminary (but still quite detailed) review of it at HFR: Surrounded dvd-audio review

    At Cduniverse.com they have sound samples of it from the CD version--doesn't sound too bad: Surrounded by Tipper

    Someone be adventurous & buy this--us stressed out people need more chilled reviews! [​IMG]

    LJ
     
  2. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    Lance, thanks for the heads-up! I've never heard Tipper before, and don't know quite what to expect.

    But what makes me think I might really go for it is that my favorite SACDs so far this summer, in addition to Roxy Music's "AVALON", are the two Groove Armada imports I've been able to acquire: "VERTIGO" and "LOVEBOX". (And I think I've finally tracked down an in-stock copy of "GOODBYE COUNTRY (HELLO NIGHTCLUB)", but I won't know for sure until it ships.) Groove Armada is often described as "chill-out" music, but it's very house, often very danceable and uptempo, with alot of dub and techno mixed in.

    So, is Tipper similar to Groove Armada? Wish I knew. If so, I'd buy it in an instant. From the sound samples you linked to, it seems of-a-kind, but perhaps a bit more "new age" than house/dub (and I understand what negative connotations that term has). Not John Tesh, you understand, but maybe something a bit more like an electronic Penguin Cafe Orchestra? Or some of Eno's ambient work?

    At any rate, I'm really interested in hearing some more about this release. I noticed that CD Universe lists Groove Armada's "LOVEBOX" as one of the albums that people who bought Tipper also bought, so that certainly indicates that I might like this, perhaps alot. Perhaps a very great deal. Perhaps enough to join my other "summer hi-res favorites"!

    Thanks again for the heads-up, Lance. I'll be watching this thread with great interest, and if I should find myself with a copy I'll certainly post my impressions!
     
  3. Gary_W

    Gary_W Auditioning

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    I have it and it is pretty good. It is however, pretty downbeat/mellow. I would call it ambient/techno. There are some interesting videos and an aggressive surround mix to keep it from getting boring, but I don't think I would enjoy a 2-channel redbook version of this disc, but then I'm not into ambient music at all.
     
  4. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Gary: what are the videos like? Animated? People? I've never seen a video for this kind of music.

    And to be honest, aren't downtempo/chill-out/ambient pretty much the same music? Even knowledgable(sp) music store people I trust use these terms interchangeably. [​IMG]

    LJ
     
  5. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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  6. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    I purchased it the day after this thread was begun, and have been living with it since then. My impressions:

    Sonics:
    Very good, even in DD-5.1, but the electronic nature of most of the sounds sorta mask any deficiencies. When you hear acoustic instruments in the mix, whether guitars, drums/ride cymbals, choruses, orchestral ensembles, etc., it sounds rather low-fi, and perhaps intentionally so. The timbres of the "real" instruments simply aren't as true and right as the better recordings you've heard, but no one will return this for lack of sound quality. Quite good.

    The mix:
    I haven't listened to the stereo mix (really, why bother for a title like "Surrounded"?). The multichannel mix, however, is the most active I've ever heard and makes the early "ping-pong" stereo mixes seem downright quaint in their "gimmickry". Btw, I use that term with some hesitation, as the nature of this music sorta demands such "gimmickry". I don't mean it necessarily as a criticism.

    It seems that Dave Tipper has developed something akin to Zappa's "snorks", generally comprised in this instance of some synthesized or sampled percussion that is constantly in motion within the "surroundstage". The environment is very open and very deep, and specific sonics are located discretely in nearly every part of the three-dimensional space. Sometimes these sounds spin around the room, and often in tandem with another sound spinning in the opposite direction. The placement is very specific, as is the motion. Sometimes sounds seem to run in a straight line from channel to channel, other times they take a more circuitous route like a baseball player widely rounding the bases almost to the edge of the outfield grass. Sometimes they pause and reverse course. There's one very impressive section where the light "psh...psh'ing" of (a ride cymbal?) slowly traverses back and forth behind you while half notes ring out from directly behind you. I've never heard such perfectly placed rear imaging, and it makes me wonder why anyone would feel a 6.1/7.1 channel system is necessary. It surely isn't for this mix.

    The music:
    Here's the rub. Is this music you'll care to listen to or just some glorified demo piece for people to test their systems or impress others with it? At first, I was very much in the latter camp finding nothing of very much musical interest, and certainly nothing as interesting as some of the distant cousins of this music that I like very much (Orbital, Air, Groove Armada's more ambient pieces, etc). But, at first, I was listening to it while watching the videos. This is no small point for me, and I want to discuss it briefly.

    I suppose music listeners break down very roughly into two overly broad camps (yes, I'm generalizing here). On the one hand are those who like to stimulate senses other than simply the auditory ones while listening. Perhaps this person might prefer to listen in a public space wherein one is encouraged to get up and boogie, or sway or shuffle as the beat may command, while looking at the lights and the other people, holding conversations, ordering drinks, etc. A semi-related listening environment might include those who "listen" to music while watching unrelated images on TV, reading a magazine, driving a car, or otherwise "multitasking" with their five senses. Somewhere in the middle of this group may be those who prefer listening to music with some very specific and related video playing simultaneously, perhaps even images of the performers playing the piece. At the other end of the spectrum are those that sit in the sweet spot with all the lights off (perhaps an unobtrusive candle), eyes closed, and, for all intents and purposes, alone with only the sound of the music. The other senses are deprived so that the auditory sense becomes more pronounced. Obviously, each of us enjoys music in each of the ways I've described above, but many avid listeners prefer the latter listening mode for "serious listening". And, of course, it depends on the music. I don't listen to the Sex Pistols in the same way I listen to Mahler... but you get the general idea.

    When I listen "critically" as they say, and particularly to a very internalized music like "Surrounded", I'm in the latter camp. Lights off, eyes closed, all distractions muted as much as possible. Unfortunately, the first two times I listened to "Surrounded", I did so with the videos playing, and I've since discovered that this very much distracted me away from many of the more subtle and interesting elements of this piece. In fact, I can honestly say that this music had almost no impact on me upon those first two listens. And I'm a musician, one who's been trained to notate music by ear and I'm generally very good about recalling melodies and harmonic progressions even after a single listen. But this music made almost no impact, and I had a very limited memory of it even after hearing it twice.

    Granted, with the exception of the Tipper "snorks", this music is often more like a succession of ambient textures than a harmonic progression supporting melodies. But I'm given to liking this type of music very much, and I hear a great deal of musical value in certain ambient works that others dismiss as little more than "aural wallpaper".

    So, after convincing myself that the videos had nothing to offer -- briefly, they accompany more than half of the tunes (the others have either a title page or succession of still images) and are of various styles: stop-motion, computer, computer painting over video (sorta like Brakhage, but not nearly so interesting) -- I then turned off the monitor and the lights and closed my eyes. It got better.

    I started listening deeply into the mix, discovering the more subtle elements that make this music somewhat interesting, and paying more careful attention to the specific architecture and trajectories of sound. But does it rise above the status of a mere demo disc to the level of musical art? I'm not yet convinced, but I am looking forward to hearing it again now... something I was not compelled to do the first two times with the video. So, I'm still intrigued, but not quite convinced. But I'm happy to live with it a bit longer before drawing any final conclusions. And I'm certainly not dismissing it out-of-hand.
     
  7. Michael St. Clair

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    We used it for background music at an outdoor dinner party thursday night. People liked it, we listened to a few tracks inside in surround as well.

    I thought it was decent, but I'd take Bill Laswell or one of his many projects like Material over this any day...even if the Laswell was in stereo, not surround.
     
  8. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Wowee Rich, very nice review--thanks!

    LJ
     
  9. Chat C

    Chat C Agent

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    I agree, very nice review Rich. I just received my DVD-A copy today and listened to it all the way through while watching the videos. I also feel that I'll enjoy the disk better when I listen to it with my TV off so I can really focus on the music. While it's not as engrossing as I thought after hearing the few samples online, I'm sure after it sinks in more I'll grow to like even more. The ambience and surround usage is excellent. I think I prefer the more upbeat tracks as opposed to the mellow ones, but over all I'm pleased that I bought this disk and look forward to others like it.
     

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