Circuit 1:1 (1999)
"Paper covers rock. Rock crushes scissors. Scissors cut paper."- Keepcase liner text
Stars: The Cardigans, Cake, Beck, Guided By Voices, R.E.M.
Other Stars: Grant Lee Buffalo, Rialto, Liquid Liquid, Paul Kimble
MPAA Rating: Not RatedRun Time: 01h:17m:00s
Release Date: 1999-06-15
DVD ReviewThe first volume of Quickband Entertainment's DVD magazine opens with ahumorous short movie of a (presumably) Mexican woman cooking something. Sheis asked by a little girl (in Spanish) "Grandma, what are you making?" "DVDs." she replies.
Section 1: BANDWIDTH
First Artist: The Cardigans.
Directed by Karim Ek.
In this 8-minute video piece, Nina Persson and Peter Svensson of The Cardigansfind themselves in a bowling alley. One of the alley managers gives them somesimple lessons and then proceeds to conduct a very relaxed interview. I'm not toofamiliar with The Cardigans, but if I were I think I would find this segmentdisappointing. Watching these band members bowling is not exactly high-entertainment—actually it's quite boring. The sounds of the alley drown out thediscussion between the artists and the bowling manager making it tough tounderstand what's going on. Featured along with this segment are all 4 versions ofthe video for My Favorite Game. I remember when this single first hit themusic racks, most people assumed the song and the album title, GranTurismo were references to the extremely popular racing video game GranTurismo. The Cardigans claim that it was coincidence, but who knows. Regardless, no versions of the video were shown on TV for supposedly being toocontroversial, but I didn't see what the big deal was. The video has lead singer NinaPersson driving wildly down a highway causing accidents along the way. The videowas made by Jonas Ackerlund and was filmed with 4 separate endings, hence the 4different versions on the disc.
Second Artist: Cake
Directed by Jonathan Stearns.
This 9 minute piece features Cake members John McCrea and Vince di Fiore beingdriven around what seems to be Sacramento, California. They aren't reallyinterviewed and rather just talk openly about whatever subject pops up, mostlythings seen on their trip. The segment is edited wildly together and uses a gooddeal of sped up footage and bizarre cuts. Again, I have to wonder what purpose thissegment would serve to Cake fans. Despite being moderately entertaining, thesegment lacks any real interview-style cohesion. Also accompanying this segmentis an audio-only track with more random comments from John and Vince.
Third Artist: Beck
Directed by Bart Lipton.
In a fairly straight interview segment, Beck appears. Interviewed by a computerizedvoice, the video certainly fits with Beck's unusual music style. A few small clips ofmusic are included, but this 9-minute piece is mainly discussion with Beck. Afterthe first 2 segments, this one is a nice move into focusing on the music, rather thanjust various thoughts.
Fourth Artist: R.E.M.
Bookended by BMW commercials, R.E.M.'s segment is a well directed, straightinterview piece shot in different locations. With some in-studio footageincluded, the video is a nice look into the world of R.E.M. after their drummer left. Unfortunately, one of the things that's always turned me off of this band is theirtendency for arrogance. Even though Michael Stipe is surprisingly talkative andengaging than what I've usually seen in interviews with him, the general tone is thatwhat they're doing is unheard of. Comments like "this album is unlike anythingyou'll hear this year or next," leave a bad taste in my mouth. I've never reallyliked bands that try to paint themselves as revolutionary, especially when they're asmainstream as R.E.M., and ,like it or not, they ARE the mainstream nowadays. Theway I see it, audiences determine what band is "revolutionary," not the banditself.
Fifth Artist: Guided By Voices
Directed by Banks Tarver
After a commercial for NetFlix.com, we get to see a 10 minute excerpt fromWatch Me Jumpstart, a film about the band Guided By Voices. I've neveractually heard of the band personally, but the piece is well made and certainlyinformative. Unfortunately, there isn't any information about the full-length versionof this film or where it can be obtained. The video has 5 additional audio tracks: aninterview with band member Bob Pollard, an interview with director Banks Tarver, 2songs from GBV's latest album, and a solo song by Bob Pollard. Any fans of thisgroup should be pleased with this hefty segment.
Section 2: FRONT ROW
The Artist: Grant Lee Buffalo
Directed by Jodi Wille
After a commercial for a Willie Nelson album (that uses a remade DanielLanois/Brian Eno song), begins a lengthy 22-minute video of Grant Lee Buffaloperforming live. GLB is yet another band I've never heard of, but that aside thevideo should please fans. It does need to be pointed out, though, that only about athird of the video is a live performance. The rest is rehearsal footage, backstagefootage, and interview segments. The live tunes are well filmed, but you'd probablyhave to be a fan of GLB to really get into it.
Section 3: Soundtrack
The Movie: Velvet Goldmine
Focusing on the musical production element of the Todd Haynes film VelvetGoldmine, this segment interviews Paul Kimble. Kimble produced the musicwork in the movie, which is set in a fictional, 70's glam-rock scene. In order toproduce the songs for the fictional bands in the film, a lot of talent had to be tappedand Kimble talks about some of that. An alternate audio track presents a phoneinterview with Ron Asheton, formerly of the legendary glam/punk band, TheStooges (with Iggy Pop). Since the film had a fictional band patterned after theStooges, contacting Asheton to perform in the film was a logical choice. It's aninteresting piece, but it feels a little shallow considering the massive weight ofmusical talent behind the movie. For example, Kimble talks about meeting BryanFerry and Brian Eno and talking with them for some research purposes, butwouldn't it have been cooler to have FILMED the meeting or had commentsfrom classic glam musicians?
Section 4: In Tune
The Artist: Rialto
This is simply a music video for the song 5:19 (Monday Morning performed by Rialto. The video is pretty standard stuff with the band doing a "live"performance of the song with some snappy visual edits. The song itself seemsvaguely familiar, but I can't place it. It's almost Beatlesesque. Before the video thereis yet another BMW commercial.
Section 5: UNDERCURRENT
The Artist: Liquid Liquid
This was definitely my favorite track on the disc. The video for Cavern is asurreal piece of black-and-white animation featuring two silhouettes transforminginto various things. The animation was done by legendary abstract artist OskarFischinger in 1927 and was one of his lost pieces of work. The music was easilymy favorite as well, being a strange funk/trance-like beat with echoed vocals in thebackground. An alternate audio track provides an interview with band memberRichard Maguire that discusses their origins and how they obtained the video. I'mnot sure how many people will get this reference, but the video (visually and aurally)reminded me a lot of Suicide's Dominic Christ.
Section 6: JUNK DRAWER
In this section resides the production credits for the disc, a button for viewing theopening movie again, and a button labelled "Rochambeau." The Rochambeaubutton activates a video sequence of a hand playing rock, paper, scissors. Presumably this was just some humorous add-on feature, since it doesn't reallyhave anything to do with the disc.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C+
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Image quality varies from segment to segment. Overall the video seemsto have a lot of compression problems like noise and haze. The Cake and GrantLee Buffalo segments suffer from a great deal of aliasing as well, which I can onlyassume was the result of a direct-from-videotape transfer. The R.E.M. segementhas ghosts in some areas, where the camera movies and little phantom pixels staybehind. Most of these image problems are fairly easy to separate from experimentswith the film stock or camera technique. For example, the Liquid Liquid video is of fairly poorquality, but the fact it originates in 1927 excuses this. However, newer materialshouldn't be quite so rough. The best looking part of the disc is easily the Cardiganvideo. Overall, the video lacks a clarity one would expect from a dual-layer disc.
Image Transfer Grade: C+
|DS 2.0||English (certain segments)||yes|
|English (certain segments)||yes|
Audio Transfer Review: All music videos on the disc (except the live performance/documentary of Grant LeeBuffalo) are in Dolby 5.1. All other material is Dolby 2.0 Surround. The Cardigans' My Favorite Game hasridiculously overpowering bass that launched my subwoofer into outer space. Assuming this was my fault, I checked my settings as much as I could but, sureenough, it was the sound mix in the video. The Rialto video also had slightlyexaggerated bass problems, and the subwoofer channel seemed to be carrying a lotof hiss and background noise as well, which I've never encountered. Everythingelse sounded fine, and the small music clips in the R.E.M. and Beck segmentssounded great in 2.0. Despite the 5.1 enhancements, you may want to turn off the subwoofer channel.
Audio Transfer Grade: C
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 0 cues and remote access
- DVD-ROM Weblinks
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsFor being "the world's first music magazine on DVD," the disc is a little on thedisappointing side. The segments where the bands don't do anything seem like awaste of space. I'd have rather seen good interviews or more music rather thanThe Cardigans going bowling, or Cake driving around aimlessly. While Iunderstand the occasional need to have sponsors, the amount of advertising is a bitdisturbing. The menuing system is graphically interesting, but at times feels sticky to wade through. I haven't seen any of the other Circuit discs (yet), but I would hope thatthey start to diversify and cover not only more music genres than just college-radiotype stuff, but also include more music. If you like these bands, the disc willcertainly entertain, but if you don't really like them or aren't familiar with them, Idoubt Circuit 1 will do much to convince you otherwise. Try renting itbefore investing in a subscription.
Dan Lopez 2000-06-05