Circuit 1:3 (1999)
"The world is 5 billion years old, and I'm only 33 years old. So, who am I to make any objective pronouncements on what the nature of existence is?"- Moby
Stars: Moby, Kool Keith, Paul Westerberg
Manufacturer: Laser Pacific
MPAA Rating: Not RatedRun Time: approx. 02h:00m:00s
Release Date: 1999-10-12
DVD ReviewSection 1: BANDWIDTH
I. Band: Moby
The section begins with an old Timex TV ad, which will soon infest the entire disc like an unwelcome virus. Moby, great-great grandson of Herman Melville—thus the name—gets a tour of Hollywood in a tour van, being exposed to everything from porn shops and Michael Jackson look-alikes, to Mann's Chinese Theater and Beverly Hills while being interviewed by the driver. The man proves as interesting as his music. Unfortunately, the audience is jarred by another Timex commercial...I swear I remember this one, despite being probably 30 years old since it last ran. The Moby music video Run On which is fair, but the song is hip and lively, with influences it seems somewhere between the Peanuts' Vince Garibaldi, the Beatles, with a pinch of Tracy Chapman thrown in for good measure. Like a sip of ice tea on a hot summer's day.
II. Band: 311
First a Guess Jeans commercial. Homina, homina: no nudity but nearly worth the price of admission if you have any testosterone whatsoever. The dream ends and 311 is being interviewed at their recording studio, playing hoops, working out, etc. and, well, smoking pot. Not surprising that their music has a sublime, Reggae sound. Enjoyable, but probably not the kind of role models for your kids. Ah, who am I kidding? They are probably exactly who your kids emulate.
III. Band: Flaming Lips
Zaireeka is the Flaming Lip's 1997 four CD set, meant to be played at the same time, making up each song—the sum of the four parts. Circuit: 3 allow the viewer to play all tracks simultaneously, or individual tracks for the song The Big Ol' Bug is the New Baby Now. Done electronically, it pushes the medium, but I'm not entirely sure where...perhaps into a corner it can't get out of. The first track lays down the main melody; two adds down sounds, words, backup vocals; three add the main vocals and bass drum; four adds more sounds, bass and soprano vocals. Reminds me of the time I was 18 and my friend Ross had an echo chamber and a cassette deck and we recorded all of my songs. In between we created strange sounds and layered them with the echo chamber's circuit. Fun, kinda cool, not something I'd listen to over and over. Veni Vidi Vinci
IV. Band: Kool Keith
Interviewing Kool, the self-proclaimed "black Elvis," as he goes shopping on Melrose Street, who feels his music is more rock than rap—a crossover. Keith's big dream: to be in the cast of Star Trek! Can't be all bad.
V. Band: Paul Westerberg
Excerpt from Ondi Timoner's documentary "Seeing through Paul, about Paul Westerberg of the Replacements and GooGoo Dolls about his solo album and everything that went into it the making of it. This followed interview with Paul Westerberg. This is a guy in a weird place, but hey, who hasn't been there if you're over 30? "I Love You Now Forever Now" Grainy, on purpose?
Section 2. SOUNDTRACK
I. Band: Radiohead This section begins with the obligatory Warner Bros. commercial for the Goodbye Lover starring Ellen Degeneres. An excerpt is shown from the Meeting People is Easy documentary of Radiohead's 1997 OK Computer" world tour (1.33:1, Full Frame, DS2.0). It's hard to tell the quality of this transfer because it is grainy, slightly off colored and washed out on what seems to be purpose. The excerpt, fairly meaningless in comparison to that of the Paul Westerberg cut, but because of the song overlay might just appeal to you Gen-Xers or more so to you Gen-Yers who can't concentrate on too many words all in one sitting without having your ears bleed. An interview with Meeting People is Easy's director, Grant Gee. Interesting interview which is barely audible unless turned up very loud due to a bad recording involving way too much traffic, street noise and a British accent. Still, despite all that and the overdone "hip" multi-strange-angle ouvre style, Gee gives some intellectually pleasing insight into the making of the documentary and the way that we form opinions based on perception gleaned from external sources such as television and magazines. His interview is more engaging it seems than his film.
Section 3. IN TUNE
II. Band: Underworld
The video for the song Push Upstairs (1.33:1Full Frame, DD5.1) contains some excellent, albeit dark at times, black and white cinematography with a very cool but overused "melding" technique, which does however best represent this Welsh bands unique melding of electronic dance and rock styles, as featured in the English heroin cult favorite, Trainspotting.
III. Band: Styles of Beyond (or the brilliant SOB for short)
Their song Easy Back It Up (1.33:1Full Frame, DD5.1) turns out to be just another rap song without much to separate it from the pack, except it's by a black guy and a white dude (do these Vanilla Ice imitators never learn?) Meanwhile back at the hood, the video seems completely separate in meaning from the words of the song, and other than its slightly amusing turn of events it strikes me as another 3 minutes I can't buy back even with a FREETOSHIBADVD coupon from Reel.com. (Don't you miss those?) Still I hate to sell anyone short on the basis of a single track. Perhaps we'll meet again (I'm saving my MOVIES code just in case).
Section 4. FRONT ROW
I. Band: Mercury Rev
Got to pay the distribution bills; another Warner Bros. commercial for the Matrix (1.33:1 Full Frame, DS2.0) and its website: whatisthematrix.com. Mercury Rev is shown performing live from Austin, Texas (1.33:1 Full Frame, DD5.1). A former art-punk band turned more traditionally psychedelic sounding rock band with an intriguing Genesis live quality, a dash of U2's the Edge like guitar riffs, and a voice entirely too reminiscent of either Julian Lennon or Al Stewart in a live performance presented in slow motion front to back. A good start, which makes me seek out more from this band originally comprised of University of Buffalo students to create soundtracks for nature films, but the honeymoon might end early. We then join the band as they go shopping at a thrift store in Austin. What can I say? Big Belt Buckles are in...I guess. Here comes the boss: an old Timex commercial.
II Band: Mibo Matto
Another band live from Austin, Texas (1.33:1 Full Frame, DD5.1). Now here's a song with a backbone bass and rhythm working for it, an offbeat melody and harmonies kept from outright realization by the undecipherable lyrics. Then, sitting at a diner, we get a candid interview with Yuka and Miho about their musical origins, their use of samples, their ill-appreciated categorization as a novelty act, and the invisible interviewer. You haven't seen anything until you've seen hot tea being poured in slow motion. Here comes the boss again, pouring down cash like a melody: tick, tock—another ancient Timex commercial repeat.
Section 4: JUNK DRAWERI. Opening movie clipII. "Ocean Apes" III. "The Woodshed" with credits longer than the short itself. Too many cooks spoil the soup.
Section 5: CREDITS
a. Credits - Whether it be the fishbowl in the credits screen, or crunching of chips in the Junk Drawer (which separates out the opening movie clip, the strange fishbowl sequence which may go on endlessly called Ocean Apes which the more you see the more it really frightens me.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Most of the source material here appears spotty. Whether it be the jumpy video in the Flaming Lips section, or the graininess during the Paul Westerberg and Radiohead pieces, this is not reference quality video...even if the grain is on purpose. I'm not going to gripe too much about the image transfer, as it is plays only a supporting role for the audio portions. I want to play the elitist, but it is still more important to have the medium branch out than to stagnate under the unbearable weight of costly anamorphic widescreen transfers I'm sure Quickband can't afford. Oz has spoken.
Image Transfer Grade: C
Audio Transfer Review: I was able to switch via the remote between Dolby Surround 2.0 bitstream, PCM, and analog 6 channel, but was unable to get at the promised Dolby Digital 5.1 on any of the pieces. The workman-like 2.0 track is sufficient for the purpose, but we all know the difference (at least potentially) a 5.1 track can make on the overall effectiveness of a DVD.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 0 cues
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Goodbye Lover and The Matrix
Extras Review: The menu (in DS2.0) has some very cool graphics, which however, may give you a headache if looked at too long. Quickband has really played with the medium a bit, and had some fun. Whether it be the fishbowl in the credits screen, or crunching of chips in the Junk Drawer (which separates out the opening movie clip, the strange fishbowl sequence that may go on endlessly called "Ocean Apes" (you know, the more I see of it the more it really frightens me), and "The Woodshed" with credits longer than the short. No subtitles. No clock. Two negatives, but partially offset by the "Play all" function, instructions how to use the DVD, and a cute 30 second commercial about subscribing.
Extras Grade: B-
Final CommentsFun and eclectic, this disc contains a little bit of everything for those hip to the new music scene, while interesting those of us who are suddenly feeling like "mamas in the sky there singing." There is enough button pushing on this disc to keep the little Gen-Xers and -Yers busy while you do something important like earn a living, but it can be fun for slower folk like me nonetheless. The repeated usage of material and hard-to-read and too quickly scrolled band information was the only real annoying aspect of this disc. A lot of excellent work went into the menus and graphics, even if they are repeats from the two previous issues that I haven't seen yet to make that determination. If you like your music hip and happening, this is nice addition to your DVD magazine rack.
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Robert Mandel 2000-04-09