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SeeMusicDVD presents
Sonic Bloom (2003)

"There is no law of history any more than of a kaleidoscope."
- John Ruskin

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: September 09, 2003

Stars: Larry Douglas Embury
Manufacturer: No Frills DVD
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 00h:58m:46s
Release Date: August 26, 2003
UPC: 803680284094
Genre: pop

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C- BB-A- C

DVD Review

This DVD contains an odd marriage of organ versions of popular standards from the 1930s through the 1960s (peculiar enough in its own right) with kaledioscopic imagery. These images are produced through the Kaleidoplex, a gadget used by Virgil Fox in the 1970s during his Heavy Organ tours. Essentially a second kaleidoscope mounted before a kaleidoscope, the gizmo permits a vivid light show that is often visually stunning, constantly changing as different source materials (here including paintings by Matisse and designs by Frank Lloyd Wright) are fed into it.

Unfortunately, the creators of the Kaleidoplex don't seem to believe sufficiently in the merit of their invention, for the images are further distorted by CGI to allow them to rotate and spin on their axes, which both disrupts the effect and is fairly ugly to boot. On the positive side, this tendency is limited to a few occasions and it doesn't disturb the vast majority of the programme. When the Kaleidoplex is allowed to produce the images on its own, it does a splendid job of creating abstract imagery that delights the eye.

The organist is Larry Douglas Embury (who also plays piano on a couple tracks, double-tracked with the organ). His arrangements are inoffensive enough to please most (other than those wanting something a shade adventurous from the music). The piano is standard-issue cocktail lounge—nothing memorable. Essentially, these are easy listening version of these tunes, and that's not a fate that should be visited upon classics by Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Carole King, Richard Rodgers, and others. Passable as background music, but probably not what one would want for serious listening. The organ is the Möller from the Fox Theatre in Atlanta.

Contents of the disc include:
My Heart Belongs to Daddy (Porter)
But Not for Me (Gershwin)
Ain't Misbehavin' (Fats Waller)
Embraceable You (Gershwin)
Go Away Little Girl (King)
You've Got to See Mama Ev'ry Night (Billy Rose)
Georgia on my Mind (Hoagy Carmichael)
Willow Weep for Me (Ann Ronell)
Lullaby of Birdland (George Shearing)
Stella by Starlight (Victor Young)
Yesterday (Lennon/McCartney)
Where or When, from Babes in Arms (Rodgers & Hart)
It Might as Well Be Spring, from State Fair (Rodgers & Hammerstein)
You Make Me Feel So Young (Joseph Myron/Mack Gordon)

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen picture generally looks pretty good, although the visuals are very soft and unlike a razor-sharp kaleidoscope view. The excessive CGI is just distracting and detracts from the visual experience, and it's poorly rendered with a ton of aliasing and artifacting visible. In order to make out the source materials that are being fed into the Kaleidoplex, you may need to lower the contrast on your monitor. Video bit rates are extremely high, fluttering between 8 and 8.5 Mbps. I found myself longing for the clarity of a real kaleidoscope, however, hence the somewhat lower grade.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
(music only)no

Audio Transfer Review: Where this disc shines is in the audio presentation. Organ pipes can go darned low, and this recording takes full advantage of the LFE channel. Bass is incredibly low and powerful. The 5.1 audio sends the higher parts to all speakers but the subwoofer will if capable produce a truly gut-wrenching bass experience. Unlike the Heavy Organ companion disc linked above, this DVD was recorded under studio conditions, so audience and ambient noise are not a concern here, making for a more enjoyable sound experience.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 14 cues and remote access
Production Notes
Packaging: Amaray Double
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Soundtrack CD
Extras Review: The primary extra is a soundtrack CD that essentially duplicates the DVD audio experience but makes it more portable. A set of liner notes describes the visuals and Embury tosses in some meaningless comments that will generally just be found annoying by those who love these songs.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

Pop standards are given a bland organ approach, but the visuals are interesting when not messed up by excessive CGI.


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