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Music Video Distributors presents
X-Mix: The DVD Collection #3 (1997-1998)

Review By: Dan Lopez  
Published: June 30, 2002

Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (some nudity and mild violence in the computer imagery)
Run Time: 02h:35m:00s
Release Date: July 02, 2002
UPC: 730003811388
Genre: music

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- A-B+A- D

DVD Review

The final volume of MVD's X-Mix series covers the last 3 of the original VHS collections: Electro Boogie, Transmission From Deep Space Radio, and Jack the Box, each presented here in their entirety. Just like the rest of the series, we have compilation mixes of electronic music designed to entrance the viewers ears, while animated shorts (usually computer animation) serve as entertainment for the eyes. The evolution from the genesis of this series and simplistic little 3D abstract models to full shorts of amazing quality and creativity is quite fascinating in retrospect. Although to the casual listener, all this music might sound alike, there's actually subtle, technical differences in what each of these volumes are supposed to represent. The wild, multi-genre status of electronic music can be bewildering and, at times, a little ridiculous, but it does help give a basic understanding of where each distinct "scene" is coming from.

The first presentation, Electro Boogie is intended as a throwback to old fashioned, 808-drum machine tunes of the early 1980s; a genre simply called "electro", the origins of modern rap music and original breakdancing-style grooves. Of course, as the music is newer than that generation, it's spiced up quite a bit from its roots, but it's still the same basic raw, minimalistc beats and tunes in that style. This is definitely a revisitation of those days when underground clubs were not content with the new-wave of the day, and began crafting their own mixes from simple electronic equipment, usually not more than just a basic sequencers and keyboards. The computer animation in this volume is fairly abstract and mainly background imagery, but this is not a bad thing, merely a reflection of the overall style applied to the music.

Next is Transmission from Deep Space Radio, which is intended to pay tribute to the early 1990s American techno scene, largely associated with the Detroit club movement. While, in my opinion, the tracklist is seriously missing some important names (like Juan Atkins), it's a good mix of the kind of experimental, repetitive, trance-like work coming from that era, and of course you can't have a Detroit compilation without at least one track from Plastikman (a.k.a. Ritchie Hawtin). It's a very good mix and is arguably the best of this volume, offering a broad selection of sub-styles from that era of music. Most of the computer shorts in this volume are little stories and are less abstract. This makes it very more involving as a sit-down-and-watch experience, and fits the music very well.

The final mix is Jack the Box, an acid-house compilation that aims to combine the modern acid-house of the time with 1980s electro (the two genres are very similar, I would argue identical). Like most acid-house, the music is largely a purposeful evolution of disco that is relentlessly upbeat. I personally am not much for the whole acid-house scene, but the mix here should be more than pleasing for the discerning ear in that field. Video-wise, this volume boasts what is possibly the single greatest visualization on any of the compilations. Best described as a film collage, the video here is not computer animation, but rather a cut-up work of 16mm film clips, mixed with occasional digital effects. The end result is a video-installation-like piece that is truly impressive and in the upper echelon of the artistic work done in these music video compilations.

X-Mix 3 is certainly a must-own for fans of 1990s-style dance compilations focusing on the underground side of things. It's intentions come across very well as more of a tribute to the music than just another "same-ol'" techno mix. The video is entertaining and engrossing, and the music provides a perfect, endless fit to it. Artistically, this disc aims high and hits the mark, but even on just a basic level of providing a music collection , it still functions perfectly. It may be the last of the X-Mix, series, but certainly not the end for these kinds of stylistic videos.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect RatioVarious - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Overall, the transfer quality is markedly better than previous X-Mix volumes. While each short has it's own effect on the visual quality, which are often made to be purposefully vague or distorted, the source material seems to be of a much higher standard. The video problems such as tracking errors and scanlines are not present in any severe way, and most of the shorts are amazingly crisp and clear, with no effects from digital artifacts or such. A few of the shorts are intentionally eroded or made to look a certain way (for example, one animated sequence was filtered to make it look like an old, beat-up negative), but in general, this is a much more pleasing disc, visually, than any of the previous X-Mix or 3-LUX ones, and much of the material is easily in the 'A' quality vein, especially the final volume of the series, Jack The Box.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is a stereo mix presented in PCM format (on most DVD players, you'll have to switch from optical to 2 channel analog or PCM downcoversion to hear anything), and is a very appropriate, powerful audio track that really explodes the music across the front soundstage. Again, this audio track feels much more produced than previous discs, and the bass is no longer flat and crammed into the rest of the audio; there's really room for the whole track to breathe here. You can turn the track up and really allow it to fill the room, and it sounds very natural. A few of the songs have some phasing effects that actually provide little surround activity once and a while. Great sound work here.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 36 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There are no additional features on the disc, but the arrangement is pleasing. Each volume can be played directly or one can specifically select songs, making the navigation very comfortable. The keepcase insert also contains a listing of all tracks, their artists, video producers, and record label.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

If you're already a fan of this series, or the techno movement in general, X-Mix 3 belongs in your collection. If you want to explore the music as a newcomer, any of the discs are worth looking at, but this one, in my opinion, is the best that's out there. As far as music videos go, this is among the more impressive I've ever seen.


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