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Review of Forget Yourself 5.1 "surround sound" Print E-mail
Friday, 02 December 2005
Originally published at www.avrev.com/music/revs/thechurch.shtml, this is a review of the 5.1 DVD mix of Forget Yourself.  I know at least one Church fan who is an audio engineer that was disappointed with the mix, but this review seems quite favourable. His comments (Ed, that's you,right?) are appended to the review.

The Church

album:Forget Yourself
format DualDisc (5.1 DVD/2-Channel Stereo CD)
label:Silverline Records
release year:2005
performance:5
sound 8
reviewed by:Paul Lingas

The Church, self-proclaimed art-rockers from Australia, have been around for about 25 years, and while they have had their hits and misses, it's too bad Forget Yourself, originally released in July of 2003, is the album they chose to release as a dual disc. Though it is not bad musically, it seems flatter than past albums and this in itself hampers the ability of the 5.1 mix to blow anyone away. Of course, it's easy to understand why they chose a more recent album to mix down, because the quality of the recording was obviously better. It would for the most part seem slightly silly to provide a 5.1 mix to something that was recorded on analog 20 years ago, but I'd love to have someone try.

As with other The Church albums, Forget Yourself tends to slide from song to song in such a way that if you're not watching the player, it's difficult to tell that the tracks have changed. Employing the proverbial sonic wall, The Church come at you with lots of overlapping sounds that don't really stick out as individual instruments but rather hit the ears as one solid pulse that has various components to it. "Song in Space" and "The Theatre and Its Double" are two of the better examples of this. Songs like "Sealine" and "Telepath" reflect more of a traditional rock sound, though one that is clearly influenced by a U.K. mentality.

Due in large part to their longevity, The Church have made quite an impact on other bands and many a listener, though in many circles they remain somewhat anonymous. Though it is safe to say that most people, who might claim not to have heard The Church, will immediately say, "Oh, this is them? I know this song," when played some of their more famous numbers. Steve Kilbey's vocals are of the husky though not overtly emotional variety, something that has been copied many a time, though mostly without success. (It is slightly unusual for a bassist to also be the lead vocalist.) Guitarists Marty Willson-Piper and Peter Koppes are talented, but this album, due to its somewhat complacent nature, tends to throw them more into backing roles rather than exhibiting their true talents for coming up with some gorgeously thick sounds. Even Tim Powles' percussion seems a bit flatter than usual, especially on the almost interesting "See Your Lights." "Lay Low" brings things around again, sliding the listener up and down many
sound peaks and valleys, seducing you to pull up a comfy chair in the middle of your speakers and get lost in the music.

Generally, The Church is best as mood-enhancing or -defying music. Their sound is mellow and intense at the same time, thick with individual sounds with other noise thrown in. They were best in the early 1990s, but they still can bowl you over with some extremely moving rock.

Sound
As with most 5.1 mixes, this one is well done and dutifully surrounds and ensconces the listener in music. The Church is a particularly good band to have in 5.1, because they have so many overlapping and intersecting sounds. They are one of those groups that has been referred to as providing a wall of sound, so it's nice to have that wall all around you. The tweaking necessary to convert to 5.1 has the effect of breaking up some of the bass in this case, so that it seems to warble slightly between the subwoofer and the rear speakers more than it should. This might be intentional, but it is so noticeable at times, and disconcerting, that I doubt it. It was probably just a result of pulling apart the tracks and sticking them into the six channels. This is somewhat nitpicking; due to the quality of The Church music, the result here is a fine dual disc. I managed to listen to the original CD, and the CD side of the dual-disc sounds exactly the same.

Ed Aldrett (I think!) commented on HotelWomb.com...

I noticed when I first heard FY and played it in 5.1 mode on my stereo the album was most likely originally intended to be released as a 5.1 hybrid SACD or DVD-Audio. There was much more kick from the rear speakers than is usually found on a CD recorded for stereo.

Another clue was that the sound of the CD changed from one stereo system to another (even though the settings were constant; only different speakers). I would keep hearing things I hadn't noticed before. When stereos (even car sound systems) continually produced different sounds although I always keep the settings on my sound systems equally balanced and without "loudness" applied, it became clear there was more to the mix than a simple stereo could reproduce.

Granted, all stereos play music, regardless of media type, slightly different, but the difference had never been as pronounced on any other CD playing stereo as it was with the FY CD. It quickly became obvious that FY wasn't originally mixed with a 2 channel stereo in mind . . . that's why I was getting so much extra sound from the rear speakers when played in 5.1 mode.

Now, with the dualdisk, a lot of what seemed to be background noise/rumble on the CD is much clearer and makes the sound much sharper. The vocals are greatly improved on the DVD-A and I notice that in places there are guitar tracks which had been bumped to the background on the original CD.

I think the one thing I disagree with the reviewer the most about is in regard to the drums. They're balanced very well. On the original CD, some of the percusion was completely lost behind the bass and guitars but can be heard on the DVD-A.

IMO, the mixing on the original and the DVD-A are great. It's my guess that they did as much as they could to get the DVD-A mix onto the CD, but the limitations of the CD format made the CD sound a bit washed out in comparison.

Once again, I'd suggest that people who have the CD version and a 5.1 capable stereo system with Dolby Prologic to play the CD in 5.1 mode. It sounds quite different from playing it in 2 channel stereo mode.

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