I didn't plunge for the big box, but I purchased the DVD/CD sets for Pawn Hearts and Still Life. I was a huge fan back in the day, I had all of their LPS, Peter Hammill's solo LPs, The Long Hello; also saw them in concert at The Beacon in NYC. That being said, I haven't listened to them much since the early 1980's!
The opening to Lemmings is spectacular! The introduction of the instruments as they spread across the room is exhilarating and is a great surround mix to use when demonstrating to visitors. There are so many sections of music with different instrumentation and the placement of the vocals, instruments, and other effects occurring here and there are respectfully assigned a place in the mix. It is very involving.
I've listened to both the 'AC3' and DTS versions. Since I don't have a room designed with surround in mind (High ceilings, in-wall speakers, glass doors, etc.), I couldn't really discern much of a difference, not was I listening for one. Both were a very comfortable listening session. Incredible clarity on this, even on the 'whirlwind' sections, and it could very well have been a muddy mess. Hammill has a varied vocal approach, but his quick changes from smooth vocals to high screeches and yelps don't sound harsh as all.
10 for the mix, 10 for fidelity, and since this is probably the proggiest of all of the prog albums that I've heard, it gets 10 for that as well.
An easy 10. Good content, similar to Steven Wilson projects, in that it has the original mix with some extras, a new stereo mix, and a surround mix. All the VDGG DVD releases have this same layout and the DTS and AC3 surround options, as well as the new stereo mixes, on the DVD itself.
They are all marvelous releases. This one is really fantastic. The standout for me is 3 min into A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers where it goes into the dreamy section with the saxophones emulating ship/fog horns and the ships crashing into each other in the night (or a ship crashing into the rocks). One ship starts right rear, moves to right front, while the other starts distant left front and gets louder left front. Or if it's a ship and a lighthouse blaring horns at each other, you can certainly imagine that, as the ship moves closer to the rocks around the lighthouse. It's really cinematic here, and you get the sense of movement and of the ships colliding.
The music is not for everybody. This is definitely the weirdest of the 4 surround releases. There were several times where I laughed in appreciation of the absurdity of certain musical interludes, but it's a fun ride. Fidelity and clarity are top notch. There are times in this one where it seems like the drums get a bit lost, but it's the same on the stereo mixes so it's consistent in that regard. I do wonder if they couldn't have added a bit more punch to them in the new mixes, but I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything in that regard. The drum sound itself is kind of dead, consistent with a lot of 70s recordings, so maybe it's best that it drops off sometimes.
I originally ordered this coming from Amazon UK. Got the notice that it was ready to be delivered to me...I counted down the days.....they said it was out for delivery...and then they abruptly cancelled and refunded ! (it was with H to He)
Then the big box set was available for $220 au so I ordered that, then had to cancel it as I was short that week. Then the box set went up to $470au..so that was definitely a no go. So I ordered Pawn Hearts again through Amazon on Dec 22nd......and it arrived today( they do do somethings right !)
What can I say ? I've been listening to this album since its original release and have grown to love it ...although that was a somewhat hard task as the 2 channel vinyl was somewhat a cacophony of sound.....but hearing it in 4 channel, with everything separated sounded mind blowing today !
I have to say Stephen W Taylor's mix of this is superb and he doesn't go too over the top, but still immersive. His drum mix was not as forward as Steve W's and I appreciated that as I usually listen to Steve's mixes.
So much work recording that album and all the layers are exposed..especially David Jacksons' saxes which are so multitracked.
Looking forward to the next instalment, maybe H to He again ?
( I have most on vinyl ..but not that one)
I've just started listening to VDGG a few months ago and got hooked on Pawn Hearts & H to He. Decided to pick up the Deluxe Editions of both of them and I'm glad I did. The surround mixes on H To He & Pawn Hearts are excellent and it's great that they included the original mixes of the albums in the package as well.