Gary Numan-Berserker (1984)

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Released 8-Oct-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Menu Animation & Audio
Active Subtitle Track-DVD V.J. - Track By Track Audio Review
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
DVD Credits
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 1984
Running Time 57:20 (Case: 60)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Derek Burbidge
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Gary Numan
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Gary Numan


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, the credits roll over the final images.

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

Plot Synopsis

    Gary Numan is, apparently, one of those "important" acts. His music has been sampled by any number of famous people over the last twenty years, and he is considered one of the pioneers of the electronica movement. None of that really changes anything about this performance. For all that it represents an important artist during an important period, there is little to disguise the fact that this performance is very much rooted in the era that gave it birth. This is, very definitely, '80s electronica.

    Now that we have that disclaimer out of the way, it should be said that this is a fairly good example of the electronica genre. Numan often blends electronic music with more traditional instruments, including violas and a saxophone, in addition to guitars and drums. This fusion of electronic and more "normal" sounds give the music an interesting appeal. There are a few tracks that do not work quite as well, such as the very '80s Music For Chameleons, but for the most part this is a musical journey that is as interesting as it is reminiscent of a musical age past. Tracks such as The Iceman Comes, and My Dying Machine are almost hypnotic in nature, and are totally drenched with atmosphere.

    The staging of the show is also quite '80s, with lots of flashing lights, and generous use of the smoke machine, but overall it is quite effective. The presentation of the video version is quite restrained, and at times seems a little uninspired, but it is infinitely preferable to the music-video style of fast jump cuts that many music presentations find necessary. It would not be possible to review a concert such as this and not mention the hair-cuts. While Numan himself is quite restrained (even taking the blue-streaked hair into account), and would easily fit in today with little notice, the remainder of the band are a somewhat more flamboyant lot. This video contains an extremely good cross-section of the mullet, displaying almost all varieties.

    It would be hard to recommend this disc to anyone who does not know anything about electronica, and those who dislike it should stay well away. For those who have fond memories of electronica, this is a very worthy investment, even taking the short running time into account.

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Track Listing

1. We Are Glass
2. Berserker
3. Remind Me To Smile
4. Sister Surprise
5. Music For Chameleons
6. The Icemand Ocmes
7. Cold Warning
8. The Prison Moon
9. My Dying Machine
10. We Take Mystery (To Bed)
11. The Is New Love

Transfer Quality

Video

    For a 1984 concert recording shot on video, this transfer scrubs up remarkably well. That said, it has its fair share of problems, but most appear to be source related.

    Presented at 1.33:1, this transfer is not 16x9 enhanced. As this was produced for video in 1984, that would almost certainly be the correct aspect ratio.

    The transfer is relatively sharp. Obviously the combination of age, poor lighting and source material are not exactly optimal, but within those bounds it is quite impressive how sharp the transfer really is. There are quite a few instances of noticeable video noise, such as from 11:08 to 11:11, but these are never really severe, and are much better than some far more recent concert recordings. The shadow detail is good, although it does come up little wanting in some circumstances. During The Iceman Comes the stage is lit using U.V. light, and this really shows up the shortcomings of the shadow detail.

    Colours are a little muted, but again for a concert that is 18 years old, these are quite good. The white costumes and predominantly white light does not help either. Where there are splashes of colour to show, they come up sufficiently to not warrant complaint. There are a few instances of colour blooming when the spotlights hit the white costumes, such as at 35:40, but these are few and far between.

    The only compression artefacts present in this transfer are deliberately created macro-blocking at the start and end of the concert. There are numerous instances of minor aliasing, but only a very few instances of extremely noticeable aliasing, such as on the bass guitar strings from 48:48 to 48:51. There are no film artefacts present, as this concert was presumably shot on video. However, there are a few instances of what appear to be minor tape dropouts, creating a band of static noise across the screen, such as at 35:25, and 48:12.

    There are no subtitles present on this disc (although there is a subtitle stream used for pop-up selection focus buttons - see the extras section).

    This is a single layered disc, and as such does not contain a layer change.

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

Audio

    The audio presentation is more than serviceable, although there is little difference in sound between the 5.1 and 2.0 soundtracks.

    This disc contains two soundtracks, being the original English soundtrack in both Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 448 Kbps), and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (at 224 Kbps).

    The sound mix is generally good. On occasion, the music seems to be a little high for the vocals, but it is only ever a temporary problem. Crowd noise is mixed in at an acceptable level, being a little quieter than on many music DVDs. This is not a mix where the crowd will actually cheer louder than the band was playing. A small problem is some minor crackling during the first full track Berserker (such as from 7:24 to 7:29), and then again at 41:05. Whether or not this is intentional is difficult to tell, but it is a little distracting. Audio sync is not a problem for this transfer, and is spot-on throughout.

    The surround channels gain little use in this soundtrack, apart from adding a little ambience to the crowd applause. During songs, they are only mixed in at a very quiet level. This gives the overall soundtrack a very front-heavy feel, and it really is more like a stereo soundtrack, as the centre gets relatively little to do when compared with the front main channels. The stereo soundtrack is very good, giving good instrument separation, and presenting a soundfield almost as wide as that on offer from the 5.1 track.

    The subwoofer is used to good effect, and is certainly not overdone. It is really only used to back up the music, and never provides a driving force, which suits the style of music well.

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

Extras

    There is a single extra present on this disc, and it is not particularly interesting.

Menu

    Presented at 1.33:1, the menu is not 16x9 enhanced. It is animated and features a stylised design that is presumably related to the Berserker album. It is accompanied by a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

DVD V.J. - Track By Track Audio Review

    This extra presents a short video segment introducing each song. It is accessible through an icon that pops up on screen at the start of each song - selecting this icon will jump to the appropriate introduction, and then back to the start of the song. Unfortunately, it is largely just pointless waffle - the type that would likely be uttered by a top-40 announcer before playing a song. A note to make here is that on my Pioneer DV-525, I could not access the introduction for track 9, My Dying Machine, as the player would just freeze. It would still respond to menu commands, and as such could be returned to the concert.

R4 vs R1

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

    This disc is not available in R1, however an R2 version exists that appears to be identical to our disc.

Summary

    Berserker is a good concert from one of the "important" electronica artists. In the end, its short running time is more than compensated for by the combination of nostalgia value, and the interesting music.

    Given the source, the video quality is extremely good, showing only a small amount of noise and almost no artefacts.

    The audio is very stereo in nature, even for the 5.1 soundtrack, and there is a small amount of crackle on occasion, but otherwise it is more than serviceable.

    The solitary extra borders on useless, and really only gets in the way.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Nick Jardine (My bio, it's short - read it anyway)
Sunday, November 10, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS787, THX Select
SpeakersAll matching Vifa Drivers: centre 2x6.5" + 1" tweeter (d'appolito); fronts and rears 6.5" + 1" tweeter; centre rear 5" + 1" tweeter; sub 10" (150WRMS)

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