dynamic bass museum
A while ago I was complaining that a few music DVDs I have were compromised by compression or automatic volume control – squeezing the dynamics, so that soft parts sound louder and loud parts are damped down. This can be useful with films, but disconcerting with music. It turns out that the problem was not with the DVDs, but with the ATi software I use. It has a dynamic compression setting that is on by default, and turning it off makes a real difference to music DVDs.
One that has really come to life is Marillion’s A Piss-up In A Brewery, the “acoustic” concert they recorded at the Bass Museum a couple of years ago. This isn’t acoustic in the MTV Unplugged sense, though, they still use electric bass and keyboards, and even lead guitar on one track. A better term might be “stripped down”. The results sound better than ever, and the music is the main reason for this DVD, not the video, which was shot with basic equipment for a webcast (though still quite fine).
So we have a tiny stage, basic instruments – acoustic guitar, piano, organ, bass & drums – yet these five average blokes saunter out, pints in hand, sit down, and… it’s not fair! Highlights include “Gazpacho”, “The Answering Machine”, “Sympathy”, and especially “Go!” A classic case of “less is more”, compared to their earlier days. Highly recommended, and at a bargain price when ordered direct from the band website.
This year, for the second time, there will be a Marillion Weekend, which is basically what it sounds like: a Marillion night-and-day overdose, with neither band nor fans getting much sleep. This year’s is sold out, as was last year’s – I must try to get to next year’s. Since Marillion is effectively a fan-supported band, with not much major label interest, they go out of their way for the fans. This year, they will be playing a concert on Friday and releasing it on Sunday – something like a 36 hour turnaround time from cameras and mikes to a finished DVD. All the concert attendees will have their names in the DVD liner notes too. Your average record company executive would sink into a coma at the thought of such special treatment for fans, but it’s all in a day’s work for these guys. No wonder they inspire such loyalty.
One of my housemates has just given me a tip for the 2:00 (Gerrard Hurdle) at Cheltenham on Tuesday: Inca Trail, each way at 14-1. Something to do with the fact that his brother won the same race last year? I don’t do the horses, so anyone else is welcome to try this, totally at your own risk, of course. I’m not putting any money where my fingers are. I have no idea whether there’s anything to back this tip up.