Super Furry Animals-Rings Around the World (2001)
Booklet-With song lyrics
Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Music Video-Roman Road; Trade Winds; Happiness Is A Worn Pun
Music Video-Patience; All The Shit You Do; Fragile Happiness
Multiple Angles-Interesting & informative surround sound-light display
|Year Of Production||2001|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Mike Gillespie|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||Varies||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Rings Around the World is a concept DVD comprised of 13 music tracks by Welsh post-alternative band Super Furry Animals accompanied by film clips from 12 different established or up-and-coming graphic artists or wannabe film producers. The music is a crossbred assortment of genres based on 70s artists, notably the Beatles and Pink Floyd, with a sprinkling of heavy metal (a la Hawkwind) and pop. Besides the band members, there is an impressive list of guest musos and a cameo by Paul McCartney playing celery and carrot.
Super Furry Animals (SFA) are a five-piece band formed in Cardiff in 1993 and Rings Around the World is their 5th album release. Larrikin and provocative, they have unashamedly pushed the cause of Welsh nationalism and language. Poetic yet satirical lyrics are blended with mostly ballad-style music with enough auditory effects and musical styles to keep the casual listener interested.
The concept is a frighteningly contemporary, apocalyptic vision of American Christian globalisation contrasted with the Asian third world and accompanied by Pythonesque cartoons of airplanes dodging missiles bedecked with revolutionary figures (more Che and Marx than Dr Strangelove!).
The videos and music are linked by an innovative animated menu and epic introduction consisting of a Sputnik look-alike satellite journeying through a graphic worm hole in space to explode in 'Rings Around the World'. Video content varies from the Yellow Submarine-like cartoon of Track 5 - Receptacle For The Respectable (complete with Blue Meanie and holes) to a Cook's tour of India on Track 7 (from Ganesh to Ghandi and ghat to Ganges). Most of the tracks are innovative and visually compelling.
For those of us who aren't diehard SFA fans, the music complements the videos nicely and is a surround spectacular in DTS or DD 5.1, but mostly doesn't sport the easy-to-hum hooklines beloved of shower tenors. The musical styles on offer are varied enough to play trivial pursuit guessing sound-alikes and style origins, ranging from the folk-bluesy Sympathy to the smooth Bee-Gees/Barry White/Caribbean blend of Juxtaposed.
|1. Alternate Route to Vulcan Street|
2. Sidewalk Surfer Girl
3. (Drawing) Rings Around the World
4. It's Not the End of the World?
5. Receptacle for the Respectable
6. (A) Touch Sensitive
7. Shoot Doris Day
9. No! Sympathy
10. Juxtaposed with You
11. Presidential Suite
12. Run Christian Run
13. Fragile Happiness
Video quality is generally poor and comes very obviously secondarily to audio and artistic considerations. Although some of the source material was obviously of poor quality, the DVD transfer exhibits a wide range and variety of artefacts. The video is presented with two viewing Angles, one being the video clips and the second being an innovative multi-channel oscilloscope-like display of sound levels. My Toshiba player consistently hung between Tracks 1 & 2 whilst viewing Angle 1 but this didn't occur on a Sony player.
The video clips and animations are mostly presented in 1.33:1 but Tracks 7 to 10 are sourced from film stock and presented in their presumably correct aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The transfer is not 16x9 enhanced.
The animations and film clips on the 12 video tracks come from a variety of sources and hence display differing video qualities. Generally, film and video clips are neither sharp nor detailed and Track 1's video is blurred and exhibits low level noise. The animations are generally sharp.
The animations are vibrantly coloured but exhibit some chroma bleeding, Film clips are generally muted and
Aliasing is prominent in the animations, and some mild blurring, presumably MPEG motion blur, was noted. The archival footage in Track 4 shows severe grain and the full house of film artefacts, but it must be borne in mind that this film must be at least 40 years old and was in the vicinity of nuclear testing!
There are no subtitles.
The DVD is single sided and dual layered with extras and menus recorded on layer 0 and the music tracks on layer 1.
There is, therefore, no discernible RSDL layer change during playback.
This was an average quality recording with no major problems.
Three tracks are provided on this DVD; DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround. The recording defaults to the Dolby Digital 5.1 track. All three tracks are selectable on-the-fly, via the Audio select on your remote, without re-starting the programme, thus facilitating comparison. I listened to all three recordings.
Vocals are reasonably clear (lyrics are included in the booklet). There are no clips of the band performing the music live in the core 13 tracks and only fleeting glimpses of them in the extras music videos. Consequently, lip-sync and timing is not an issue.
If the SFA version of the tracks are not to your taste, there are audio re-mixes of most tracks by such notables as Massima and Kid 606 available as extras.
Extensive use is made of the surround speakers and sub-woofer in most tracks and this is largely complementary to the listening experience. The surround graphical musical display of Angle 2 complements the aural experience and is less distracting than the video and film clips.
The surround experience is certainly more interesting and musically satisfying than the 2 channel, even when compared to high-end 2-channel hi-fi. Vocals are directed mostly to the centre channel and the front main and rear surrounds are extensively used for placement of effects. Direct DTS vs DD comparisons are hampered by the DTS track being (characteristically) recorded about 4-5 dB louder - the apparent brighter and more immediate effect of DTS is thus largely artefactual. However, there does seem to be an improvement in separation and clarity of surround effects in the DTS version. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround has a monaural surround backing devoid of vocals which enhances the atmosphere of the recording.
Unusually, the epic intro and main menu are recorded in Dolby Digital 5.1 with unpleasant, overdriven and possibly speaker-wrecking low level noise in the .1 channel - you have been warned! The subwoofer is put to good use in the music clips and is complementary to the overall sound without proving distracting. It is slightly more prominent in the DTS tracks even after allowing for the increased levels referred to above. There is no LFE output in the Dolby Digital 2.0 surround track.
|Surround Channel Use|
This release is multi-zoned and there are no other release versions that I am aware of.
This is not a music video of the feature band performing Rings Around The World live or in studio. It is a clever, feature-rich concept DVD and consists of a blend of contemporary pop art with the music of provocative Welsh Band Super Furry Animals. The poor technical quality of the video is a secondary consideration as a result of clever DVD authoring and visual effects. Good quality comprehensive soundtrack options (DTS/Dolby Digital 5.1 & 2.0) are available, with extensive use of the surrounds and coffee-table demolishing LFE via the sub-woofer. This is a must-have for SFA fans and would be an interesting diversion for graphics arts students and musicophiles. (SharpnessScoreID)=5
|DVD||Toshiba SD-900E, using RGB output|
|Display||Pioneer SD-T50W1 (127cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||B&W 602 front/rear. B&W LRC6 Centre / Solid (AKA B&W) 500 SW|