Alanis Morissette-Under Rug Swept (DVD-Audio) (2002) (NTSC)

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Released 18-Feb-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Making Of
Gallery-Photo
Credits
Booklet
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 51:13
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Alanis Morissette
Chris Fogel
Studio
Distributor
Maverick Recording
Warner Vision
Starring Alanis Morissette
Nick Lasley
Chris Chaney
Joel Shearer
Gary Noak
Tim Thorney
Jamie Muhoberac
Marl Stephens
Flea
Dean DeLeo
Case DVD-Audio Jewel
RPI $29.95 Music Alanis Morissette


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
English MLP 96/24 5.1
English MLP 88.2/24 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Are you uninhibited in bed ? - More than 3 times a week ? - Up for being experimental ?

    Right from the dirty, sawtooth, rhythm guitar opening of 21 Things I Want In  A Lover, you know that Alanis is a girl who knows what she wants - take no prisoners! This DVD-Audio release of the album Under The Rug Swept chronicles her reminiscences of previous relationships and I have to say there's not a lot of compliments to be found. This was not an easy album to review - it's confrontational, discordant at times and cerebral in content - not exactly a recipe for easy listening! It does get better though as you progress through the album. After 21 Things... we're treated to the smugly deprecating Narcissus and then onto the first chink in the Morissette armour with Hands Clean. This demonstrates vulnerability in the warrior maiden's armour and also features some of the most uplifting melodies of the album. You Owe Me Nothing In Return is the antithesis of the Feminist cause and a total capitulation, whilst Surrendering congratulates you on having survived the album so far. We're finally treated to the smooth as cream Utopia to pour balm on our open wounds. It's all clever stuff and, like a rich chocolate cake, tends to be best taken in small bite-sized pieces - swallow the whole lot down at one sitting and prepare for the consequences!

    Under the Rug Swept is Alanis' third album and was released on CD in February 2002, marking her return to music after a 3 year absence. During this time she dabbled in stage and film and doubtless experienced some of the events on which the album was based. Alanis was heavily involved in the initial album's production but the surround mix was engineered by Chris Fogel. The backing musicians vary from track to track and include Flea on bass in Narcissus and Stone Temple Pilot's Dean Deleo on guitar in Precious Illusions. The musical style varies quite markedly, nowhere more so than in Alanis' own vocals and definitely have an aura of the 'Funky Monk' about them. The slow, ponderous ballad of That Particular Time is nicely balanced by the up-tempo A Man whilst the ballad Flinch has a beautiful acoustic guitar surround accompaniment. Whilst her voice can be beautifully smooth and melodic she also has a Weapon-of-Mass-Destruction style, recognisable by those familiar with her cameo in the film Dogma, and at times I found this a little too discordant and sibilant  for my liking. Whereas music by the likes of Cyndi Lauper has its instant, bubble-gum,  fun-loving appeal, this album has obviously been a cathartic experience for Ms Morissette to write and record and some may find too much information shared for their own comfort zone! As for me, I started off intensely disliking it (I think it was the harsh first and condescending second track), but after many hours listening I ended up loving it and I can see many more plays scheduled before I get to grips with its complexity and richness.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Track Listing

1. 21 things I want in a lover
2. narcissus
3. hands clean
4. flinch
5. so unsexy
6. precious illusions
7. that particular time
8. a man
9. you owe me nothing in return
10. surrendering
11. utopia

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video, as is normal for DVD-A releases, is in 1.33:1, non 16x9 enhanced NTSC format. Stills to accompany the tracks were a pastiche of Alanis' photos and artwork and were crisp and without artefact. Lyrics were only available for the DVD-A tracks. The behind the scenes video was available in DVD-Audio and Video versions and filmed in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    As you would by now have come to expect, this DVD is of excellent technical quality. Disappointingly my review copy had several audio dropouts in the DVD-A 5.1 version of A Man and in Precious Illusions but a further purchased retail copy was perfect. The disc commences playback in the default mode set by your player (DVD-A or DVD-V and 2 channel, if not set to multi-speaker output) on loading the disc or pressing 'play'. The menu has to be summoned from the remote. It is possible to select the surround or 2 channel versions 'on-the-fly' but not flick from DVD-A to DVD-V mode. There are user-prohibited ops encoded so you can't pause or fast-forward/rewind the tracks.

    There are 4 audio tracks available, enough to satisfy the most demanding audiophile (oh, OK there wasn't a DTS) - two Dolby Digital, a stereo and 5.1 version and in the uncompressed DVD-A output, a 2 channel at 88.2/24 and a 5.1 mix recorded at 96/24. The quality of all the recorded tracks, dropouts excepted, was excellent. Comparing PPCM versus Dolby Digital, the uncompressed version offered a noticeably richer, more mellow sound quality and widened the sound stage. Switching to multi-channel added an impression of depth and pleasing softness which allowed increased definition of individual instruments within the wall of sound.

    Dialogue clarity was exemplary, but due to Alanis' extraordinary voice and variety of vocal styles, I found some of the vocals to grate and resonate unpleasantly - this effect was markedly reduced on a high end 2 channel system and I think represents the increased dynamism and attack offered by PPCM. I don't feel the sound engineers recorded her voice as well as could have been - an SACD version would be fascinating to hear and I suspect would smooth out some of the harshness.

    It took a couple of listens for me to be convinced of the worth of the surrounds - there was a little gimmickry, as in the circular pan at the start of Narcissus but initially I found that the 2 channel versions offered a greater focus and depth of soundstage and increased attack. After a number of playings, the surround mix grew on me and started to separate out the instruments - I don't think one version is better than the other - it's a matter of preference!

   The subwoofer was gently and appropriately used to augment the kick drum and lower bass registers.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    Quite a clever animated menu revealed by an animated simulation of under the rug sweeping!

Featurette

    22:14 of a 'making of' the album - features lots of shots of Alanis behind the recording desk, playing the hick or in full flight on stage. Quite entertaining. The quality of this extra was variable but typical of real time documentaries.

Studio Scrapbook

    10 pics from the lady's camera of life in the studio.

Booklet

    Good news for those of you without DVD-A players - the lyrics of all the songs are printed out in full here.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There would appear to be just the one version for release worldwide.

Summary

   Not easy listening but a rich album which has certainly grown on me and like a good vintage red, one whose appeal is likely to mature with time and repeated play.

    The audio quality was very good, though I felt there were some shortcomings with the mix and microphone technique.

    The video quality of the stills was excellent and the 'Making of ' video was passable.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Lancaster (read my bio)
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDEAD 8000 Pro, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE300E Projector onto 250cm screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTheta Digital Intrepid
SpeakersMartin Logan - Aeon Fronts/Script rears/Theatre centre/ - REL Strata III SW

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