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BMG Music presents
Solace (1999)

"The Windham Samplers, the origin of that is actually completely laughable. In the old days I used to take a hole punch and punch a hole in the corner of a record as a promo and send them out. And if I wanted to send out 13 records, I'd have to do that 13 times and I couldn't play the guitar, and I starting getting cramps. So I figured if I put a cut from each record onto one record I wouldn't have to punch as many holes...I never thought this would be a seller` and we brought them out and they all went gold or platinum!"
- Will Ackerman

Review By: Robert Mandel   
Published: April 18, 2000

Stars: George Winston
Other Stars: Will Ackerman
Manufacturer: Digital Cowboys Production
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 00h.00m.00s
Release Date: October 12, 1999
UPC: 019341147091
Genre: new age


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C+ B+BC+ C

DVD Review

This DVD is for all practical purposes an audio-visual presentation of the legendary Windham Hill samplers, which have been an outrageous success. It will be interesting to see how DVD will be used in the future to help market talent, CDs, other related merchandise as the format expands and grows. Dave Kusek, Digital Cowboys Production, produced the disc.

Songlist:

"To Be" by Montreux. An uplifting "new age" fusion of jazz and country, with the interesting combination of piano, guitar, violins, and ukulele. A mixture of artists who discovered their sound during an impromptu sound check at Windham Hill's first Montreux Music Festival.

"Aerial Boundaries" by Michael Hedges (shown) is like George Winston for guitar. Spatial dynamic he creates is large and in 5.1 immense. Strangely, I found myself closing my eyes to feel the piece.

"Clockwork" by Alex de Grassi (shown) is melodious, with a resonance of southern flavor. The underlying statement of the steel-stringed guitar is the ever present flow of water against the restless wind that is the flute, lifting, falling and dodging between the branches of trees.

"Cast Your Fate to the Wind" by Vince Guaraldi, played by George Winston (shown). Island dance song familiar at the hearing. Watching George play is a treat and the tropical ukulele sound he produces by shunting the chords from the inside is both interesting and amusing.

"Bricklayer's Beautiful Daughter" -by Will Ackerman (shown) carries on like a country lullaby cum new age love song. If the daughter is half as beautiful as the song, she'll make some man real lucky.

"Bradley's Dream" by Liz Story (not shown). Named for a waiter friend, aptly named, um, Bradley. Another river song, this time with a bassy undertone playfully throwing about the tenor and soprano ripples. If otherwise not noted, you'd swear in 9 out of 10 taste tests that this was George Winston. Good for George, bad for Liz?

"Night in That Land" by Nightnoise (not shown). A violinist and guitarist/keyboardist duet played over an Asian river scene, the hustle and bustle above. I thought this visual disconnected however, because the song seems like a lilting southern melody, reminiscent of a Ken Burn's documentary. Lovely, though.

"New Electric India" by Shadowfax. Interesting electric Jean Luc Ponty-like sound with Indian music backbone. I've heard of Shadowfax, an old local Chicago blues band turned ethnic synthesists, but never took action upon any opportunity. This is a real nice sound—different yet familiar. I'd like to pick up a CD or two. See the Windham Sampler does work! If I'm not mistaken however, some of the accompanying shots display Tibetan prayer flags, which while close to India, is not.

"Carol of the Bells" by Windham Hill Artists (shown). Beautiful, full-range mixture of strings, wind and brass with electric guitar and steel drums. The mix also utilizes the full sound stage, including discrete output to rears.

"Dream" by Tuck and Patti (shown). A very nice jazz standard with guitar by Tuck, and beautiful vocals by Patti. The only thing that bothered me was that Patti seems stuck in an echo chamber. Would make a nice movie score addition, if it already hasn't been used.

"The Gift" by Jim Brickman with Collin Raye and Susan Ashton (shown). Pop country love song duet, in the tradition of an animated Disney musical. Nice, but not my style. Perhaps when Disney makes Annie Oakley into an animated feature?

"Companions" by David Arkenstone (not shown). Flute and guitar dance an Irish melody, through the rolling hills and farmlands of what I think to be Ireland. And of course, water. I think there may be a law or statute against filming an accompanying Windham Hill video without water! Ah well, I can't resist an Irish tune, not even at 12:30 a.m. Very nice.

"Reflections of Passion" by Yanni (shown). All right, I admit it. I will turn off Yanni and most so called "new age" music without a second thought, but this wasn't bad, and in some way reminded of "Metropolitan Suite" by Synergy (Larry Fast). The funny thing is for this video I couldn't look away, instead I was distracted by the woman in the video. I think Yanni's problem is that he suffers from David Copperfield syndrome. Too much annoying showmanship clouds possible talent.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Framena - na
Original Aspect Ratioyesno
Anamorphicnono


Image Transfer Review: BMG and Windham Hill present this disc as a non-anamorphic 1.33:1 transfer. While the overall color rendering is good, the picture at times seems soft, as if shot through a mist or cheesecloth. The source is very clean, with few nicks, dirt, or pops. Most people will buying for the music, but still...

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: This disc has been programmed with both a Dolby Surround 2.0 and Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. The 5.1 mix is, of course, the more dynamic of the two, but the 2.0 will do the job. Most of the song mixes don't seem to separate the arrangements very much into discrete channels, as much as send the entire set of information to all channels. The .1 LFE channel does not get much of a workout, but that is expected from the type of music presented, with the exception being during Shadowfax's song, "New Electric India." My only real complaint about this disc is the audio switching can only be done via the menu, and not on the fly from the remote.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Music/Song Access with 13 cues
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single
Layers Switch: na

Extra Extras:
  1. "About Windham Hill" with interview snippets
  2. A history of Windham Hill
  3. Windham Hill labels
  4. Windham Hill catalog of CDs
  5. Windham Hill web access info
Extras Review: The single-sided picture disc comes with a semi-animated main menu with George Winston music, DVD credits, interview snippets with Michael Hedges, Will Ackerman, and Steve Vining, a history of Windham Hill, Windham Hill labels, Windham Hill catalog of CDs, as well as web, telephone, and snail mail contact information. There is a separate menu listing for information about each artist with more interview snippets, and a chapter link to their song on the disc. I would like to have seen lengthier interviews, and more with the actual artists, but this is a nice feature nonetheless.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

Despite not being in anamorphic widescreen, not being the fullest 5.1 mix, and a few minor annoying details, I found this to be an enjoyable disc. I didn't care too much for the visuals, but the music is lovely, mostly tranquil and sedate. Others, particularly those already deep into this scene, may enjoy the flow of endless rushing rivers. To me, any disc with George Winston is a winner.

 


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