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(145 min DVD, 'Strung Out')
TRACK LIST: The Concert: 1. Diminished 2. Canto IV 3. Carmilla 4. The Possession 5. Blueprint 6. The Nursery Year 7. Circuitry 8. When the Wall Are Down 9. Homegrown Extras: 10. Interlude ('88) 11. Piddle-a-Dink ('88) 12. Piddle Diddle Iddle ('88) 13. Man & the Locust ('92) 14. Still Night ('92) 15. Faces of the Petty ('92) 16. Mickey Mouse Man ('92) 17. Man in Transition ('92) 18. When She Dreams She Dreams in Color ('97) 19. Eyeballs Story ('97) 20. Into the Dream ('98) LINEUP: Matthew Parmenter - vocals; keyboards; saxophone; violin Jon Preston-Bouda - guitar Mathew Kennedy - bass Paul Dzendzel - drums Brad Buszard - keyboards
Prolusion. Led by the charismatic singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist Matthew Parmenter, America's DISCIPLINE is a widely known band, so I'll be brief here. I will only note that this DVD is their fourth official release, following their three CDs: "Push & Profit" (1993), "Unfolded Like Staircase" (1997) and "Live: Into the Dream" (1999). Matthew Parmenter has also one solo album: "Astray" (2004).
Analysis. The Concert, which is the basic material of the DVD, took place in one of the clubs of Discipline's native town in 1995 and was shot by three cameramen. The sound is clear and warm at once, as is the picture, the entire thing appearing to be very good, without any allowance for the fact that the event was shot and recorded without the use of modern digital technologies. The visuals are somewhat less diverse than those typical of recent DVD releases, but are really perfect for such a kind of live performance as is presented here. The group plays at the darkened background, the stage itself being lightened up rather sparingly too, which successfully creates a kind of mysterious atmosphere. The performance is shot from various angles, well depicting each of the musicians, and nonetheless most of the spotlights are focused on Parmenter. Following the unwritten laws of theatric Art-Rock, Matthew dresses a new costume for each new song, appearing as a medieval jester, Roman patrician, etc, and generally looks much like a tragic actor, with the respective face paint and onstage behavior. The concert runs about 75 minutes and includes nine numbers. The trademark Discipline style, which on the general musical level is something halfway between classic and neo manifestations of symphonic Art-Rock with a touch of Metal, is presented here with a fresh live urgency and energy. Diminished, Carmilla, Blueprint, The Nursery Year and Canto IV will be familiar to anyone acquainted with both the band's studio albums. The other four: The Possession, Circuitry, When the Wall Are Down and Homegrown are available only on the 'hard-to-find' compilation "ProgDay '95". It's a bit strange to me that Discipline never issued these on CD, because each is excellent too, just perfectly fitting the band's overall musical image in addition. On the other hand here they are, making this DVD a really essential release, as well as a desirable addition to the group's discography. Well, unlike The Concert, the Extras hardly impressed me at all. Most of the stuff was shot with a sole stationary camera and has an amateurish feel on all levels, save the mere fact that the songs as such are executed professionally, although most of them are either semi-experimental in character or are just slightly prog-tinged Hard Rock / AOR. The only exception to this rule is Into the Dream, the 20-minute epic song from the band's second album, which is performed with its entirety and is in every respect on a par with those from The Concert.
Conclusion. The DVD would've been just perfect had it featured only the first nine and the very last number. Then its total time would have clocked in 95 minutes, which in my view is quite enough for any DVD release. I would lie above all to myself were I to say that the presence of Extras doesn't somewhat diminish the pleasure I get while watching the basic material. Nevertheless, highly recommended to anyone into good progressive music, particularly those keen on theatrical symphonic Progressive.
VM: March 24, 2006
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