UPDATE (8/6/2013): After the jump, you'll find full specs on the newly expanded and remixed Close to the Edge, due out in October! And don't forget our post on Nonsuch from earlier this week.
ORIGINAL POST (6/24/2013): Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson has been one of the most prominent proponents of surround sound in recent memory. The singer/songwriter/guitarist/producer has spearheaded deluxe editions of classic albums from Hawkwind, King Crimson, Jethro Tull and Emerson Lake and Palmer with stunning new 5.1 mixes, and made his own acclaimed 2013 solo album The Raven That Refused to Sing available in high-resolution surround formats, as well. Over the weekend, Wilson confirmed on his official Facebook page that more exciting projects are on the way from the catalogues of two more iconic bands: Yes and XTC.
Panegyric, the label releasing DGM’s definitive series of King Crimson reissues, will release “archive CD/DVD-A and CD/Blu-ray editions” by both groups, beginning this September with XTC’s Nonsuch (1992) and continuing in October with Yes’ Close to the Edge (1972). The Yes release will be joined by a new King Crimson title, The Road to Red, focusing on the band’s final North American tour of 1974.
After the jump, we have details on all three titles!
Panegyric’s XTC reissues launch with September’s Nonsuch. The band’s twelfth album and a Grammy nominee for Best Alternative Music Album, Nonsuch reached No. 97 on the Billboard 200, and reached a perch of No. 1 on the Rolling Stone College Album Chart. It fared even better in the U.K., becoming a Top 30 album and yielding two hit singles, “The Disappointed” and “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead.” Gus Dudgeon, famous for his string of albums with Elton John, produced the album. It would be XTC’s last studio album until 1999. The new Nonsuch will include the high resolution original stereo mix, new stereo and 5.1 mixes created by Wilson, plus audio bonus tracks and (on Blu-ray) video footage.
Close to the Edge was the fifth studio album from the progressive rock heroes. Jon Anderson (vocals), Steve Howe (guitar/vocals), Chris Squire (bass/vocals), Rick Wakeman (keyboards) and Bill Bruford (drums/percussion) crafted this epic album around the nearly 19-minute title track which was featured on the original album’s Side One. That four-part suite was followed on Side Two by another four-part ten-minute opus, “And You and I,” and the nine-minute “Siberian Khatru.” The last Yes album to feature Bill Bruford before his return to the fold in 1992 reached impressive berths of No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and No. 4 on the U.K. albums chart.
In 2003, Rhino expanded Close to the Edge in an edition with four bonus tracks; earlier this year, Audio Fidelity released a stereo Hybrid SACD edition with the original album sequence only. Panegyric's upcoming October 21st reissue, available as a CD/DVD-A or CD/Blu-Ray, will be the first in a series of Yes releases, and will include:
- The original album in a new stereo mix on CD, appended by two bonus tracks: a new mix of the band's non-LP cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "America" and "an early mix/assembly" of the title track
- New 5.1 surround mixes of the album (DTS and lossless 24bit/96khz from original multitracks on DVD, DTS-HD 24bit/96khz from original multitracks on Blu-Ray) as well as the original stereo mixes, flat transfers from the original masters
- Bonus material in hi-res stereo, including single edits and studio run-throughs
- Blu-Ray exclusive material: new instrumental stereo hi-res mixes of the original album, plus a high-quality needledrop of the original U.K. vinyl pressing
- Special packaging for each variant - a double digipak with slipcase for the CD/DVD-A and a mini-vinyl gatefold replica for the CD/Blu-Ray - featuring Roger Dean's iconic original artwork (overseen by Dean for this new edition) and liner notes by writer Sid Smith with rare photos and archival material
Close to the Edge will be joined in October by a new King Crimson title, The Road to Red. The title refers to Red, the band’s 1974 LP which became its final studio album of the seventies and its last album before Robert Fripp temporarily disbanded the group. (King Crimson returned – with Fripp and Bill Bruford – for 1981’s Discipline.) The Road to Red will be issued as a limited-edition, multi-CD/DVD-A/Blu-ray boxed set in the style of last year’s amazing reissue of Larks’ Tongues in Aspic. Edited portions of Crimson’s 1974 North American tour were issued on 1992’s The Great Deceiver, but The Road to Red will be a vast improvement on that title, with the bulk of its material new to CD. Though contents are still being finalized, DGM anticipates "about 20 CDs, 1 DVD-A & 2 Blu-rays" to contain the following:
- Central park concert of July 1, 1974 from audio-restored bootleg, previously only available as a KC mail order Collectors’ Club release;
- A number of concerts drawn from the band’s own stereo soundboard cassettes, with four of these previously unreleased in any format: June 5th & 8th from Texas, June 16th from Colorado, June 23rd from Michigan;
- A further group of concerts issued on CD for the first time , having been previously available from DGM Live as downloads only;
- The complete concerts from this tour previously issued on CD only in edited form on The Great Deceiver and/or as downloads from DGM Live, including Pittsburgh, Toronto, Penn State University & Providence, plus the Chris Murphy mix of the Asbury Park concert. These CDs were all mixed from multi-tracks and appear as they did on the CDs as released; and
- The new stereo mix of the Red album by Robert Fripp and Steven Wilson.
- The new stereo mix of Red; and
- “The stereo mixes of USA in high-resolution stereo.”
- The stereo mixes from the DVD-A plus the previously released 5.1 mix of Red, and “those complete concerts, Ontario, Penn. State University et al, that were professionally recorded and mixed from multi-track recordings, newly transferred from the original Dolby SR half inch stereo master tapes in high resolution stereo.”
includes new, high-resolution transfers from original analogue mixes of complete and unedited concerts. Also included in the set will be a new stereo mix of Red by Fripp and Wilson. (2009’s 30th anniversary CD/DVD-A of Red included a 5.1 mix and high resolution stereo mix, as well.)
Watch this space for order links and more information on all three titles! We’ll report back as soon as more details, including track listings, are confirmed. Original track listings only are reprinted below, for your information.
XTC, Nonsuch (Geffen (U.S.) GEFD-24474, 1992)
- The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead
- My Bird Performs
- Dear Madam Barnum
- Humble Daisy
- The Smartest Monkeys
- The Disappointed
- Holly Up on Poppy
- That Wave
- Then She Appeared
- War Dance
- Wrapped in Grey
- The Ugly Underneath
- Books are Burning
Yes, Close to the Edge (Atlantic LP SD 7244, 1972)
- Close to the Edge (The Solid Time of Change/Total Mass Retain/I Get Up I Get Down/Seasons of Man)
- And You and I (Cord of Life/Eclipse/The Preacher The Teacher/The Apocalypse)
- Siberian Khatru
Matt Rowe says
Now, today, is there any better news? I think not. While I'm not a 5.1 fan, I'm always ready to hear a new remaster (in this case, a remix) to see if a favorite can get better without straying too far from the original. I'm talking Close To The Edge!
Mike Duquette says
Right on, Matt! I'm catching the same feelings for Nonsuch, one of my favorite XTC albums.
Neil Wilkes says
The original stereo versions are exactly that - original versions.
They are not, repeat n-o-t, remastered in any way at all.
Straight from the tapes to the new media - no additional nonsense required.
MATT, I WAS JUST THINKING TO SEND YOU AN E-MAIL !!!...AWESOME NEWS, ...I HOPE HE REMASTER AND REMIX IN 5.1, 5-6 YES ALBUMS !!!
I'm interested in the Close to the Edge and Nonesuch albums but the King Crimson mega-box might have me living on Mc Donald's Dollar Menu for a few weeks....
I am SUPER STOKED for Nonsuch, I’m interested enough in albums I’m not familiar with when Steven Wilson’s name is involved which has helped me discover quite a bit of King Crimson, but to have him doing a 5.1 mix of an album I know intimately and love like XTC’s Nonsuch is incredibly exciting. Wilson truly understands surround sound, hearing ELP’s “Lucky Man” in surround is truly an ethereal experience.
I'm a huge fan of 5.1 audio and especially anything re-mixed by Steven Wilson in 5.1. I'm actually a bit shocked to read that many are not enthused by 5.1 audio. I suspect it's because of format overload which we seemed to be overly-saturated with. I drew the line and exclaimed "no more" when Blu-ray was introduced because we went from BETA, VHS, DVD, HDVD and then Blu-Ray - and that was just on the video end. Once I saw the quality of Blu-Ray, I was hooked and the same with 5.1 audio. I have several 5.1 audio DVD's, everything Wilson has done and a few by others, and I'm eagerly awaiting more! If you aren't sure about the format, I urge you to check it out. Very much worth the investment!
Neil Wilkes says
5.1 music really did change everything for me. It was like a whole new world had literally opened up in front of me and allows me to hear things in a very different way.
In terms of audio quality there is no difference at all between the DVD-A version & the BluRay version - both are at 24/96 in 5.1 & stereo - but the visual quality of BD does make a big difference.
For newcomers to 5.1, Nonsuch will be a very good starting place, or any Porcupine Tree (Stupid Dream, Lightbulb Sun, Fear Of A Blank Planet, The Incident - all still in print too). The King Crimson 40th anniversary series is likewise a huge eye opener for some of the less accessible Crimson material (Lizard sounds stunning in the new mixes) as well as the more obvious choices (ITCOTCK, Discipline, LTIA) and if you want pure musical enjoyment in 5.1 try Steven's "Storm Corrosion" collaboration with Mikael Akerfeldt.
SW aside, Elliot Scheiner has likewise done some superb 5.1 work (Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours", The Eagles "Hotel California", Derek & the Dominos "Layla" - although not the ghastly mix on the SACD release & many more besides.
It's also worth looking into Quad - some of the old Quad mixes truly are outstanding: Alan Parson's legendary "Dark Side of the Moon" quad mix is streets ahead of the Guthrie 5.1 remix and some of the Blood, Sweat & Tears in quad is likewise stunning - check out "Spinning Wheel" if at all possible and also Joplin's classic "Pearl" sounds great in a 4-channel mix. I could go on for pages....
For all things surround past, present & future check out http://www.quadraphonicquad.com
Reviews,. news, gossip & fun stuff and a LOT of all things multichannel.
I find people's reasons to dislike 5.1 to be rather amusing. Even before 5.1, music fans would turn their nose up at quad exclaiming, "You only have two ears so therefore music should only be listened to with only two speakers in stereo!" Okay, what about all those Miles Davis albums recorded in mono? Should a person only listen to them in mono with only one speaker? I guess that means one can't go to concerts because the band plays in mono (with the exception of Pink Floyd, ELO or Steven Wilson), yet, we listen to the album in stereo. Then there are the "tone snobs" who lament, "Music should always be listened to with a flat tone; no treble or bass added because it was recorded flat therefore it should be listened to flat! I'll never buy or listen to music through an EQ!"
Oh there are so many rules we audiophiles have to follow, whatever are we to do!
Listen, music snobs (and I am one so I can rant), if you don't want to give in to another damn format and invest the money (3D television), I can understand that. But to give these silly reasons to dislike 5.1 based on some pre-conceived notion of "music is supposed to be this way" and "music is supposed to be that way" is putting limitations on what a person can do with music. I bet people were telling Ian Anderson, "Hey, you can't make one song into one album!"
I'm not an expert on 5.1 but all I know is King Crimson's "Islands" and "In The Wake Of Poseidon" sound incredible. I now experience those albums in a way I never did years ago. They sound incredible!
Now if only Steven Wilson will re-mix "Tubular Bells!"
Steady on! Mike's 5.1 remix is excellent, the only drawback on the 2009 CD+DVD or Ultimate editions is that it's delivered in practically the lowest possible quality, 448 Kbps Dolby Digital. Granted they could have gone with an even slightly lower bit-rate, but that's why I said practically and not literally. =D
Bowers & Wilkins last year released the studio master quality (in this case Mike worked with 24/48) version of the 2009 5.1 Tubular Bells remix available to download in .flac format, much like many of us (including Neil and myself) surmised it was a very noticeable improvement. You can buy the new lossless version at Bowers & WIlkins various websites depending on what country you're in. Mike can be added to the list of names like Wilson and ES and AP (and in Guthrie's defense his 5.1 mix of Wish You Were Here also shows he's gained a much better understanding of surround since his Dark Side mix) who I trust to produce great surround mixes. I hope B&W continue to release lossless versions of Mike's 5.1 mixes because we're stuck with the same low quality DD for Ommadawn, Hergest Ridge and Incantations right now and with Universal's recent announcement it looks like more of the same for this September's 5.1 mixes of Crises and Five Miles Out. Shame that Mike isn't pushing for more given that Universal are behind the "Pure Audio" Blu-ray push in France/EU and they've also distributed some other CD+Blu-ray and CD+DVD-A releases from Primus, Rush, etc.
By the way Dave Matthews Band's live set-up is also mostly stereo, with the stage right performers (violin and electric guitar) coming more strongly through the left stacks and the stage left (brass section) coming predominantly through the right stacks.
I just want to clear up a big misconception here - what Universal are doing is not Pure Audio Blu Ray - it is their own take on it called "HiFi Pure Audio". The original beast is BD-J built and does not require a screen to operate it at all, and for a straight high resolution album release it will work really well as there are no expensive, difficult & time consuming to produce visual components. You just load the disc and listen to the music. Universals is different and does require a screen and is BDMV based. In short, it is the same basic idea as the old DAD used to be when we put 24/96 stereo into a video_TS. It is nothing new and certainly nothing revolutionary.
Pure Audio Blu Ray is best described by going to http://www.pureaudio-bluray.com/ and for a release of an album in stereo and surround with no visual content except the album sleeve it is perfect. If however you are doing a project with a lot of visual content then you simply go the regular route as Steven has done (his BD team are very good as well - striking & functional with that feeling that the creation must have taken someone a considerable amount of time, effort & trouble over - another great example is the main screen on Led Zeppelin's "Celebration Day" - that must have taken months to do.
The problems we face are not with the various project managers a lot of the time - and certainly not in the case of the Mike Oldfields' (I know he is seriously into high resolution for a fact) but instead lies with our old nemesis the label Bean Counter and his cronies. The whole industry could - and should - have gone down the high resolution route a long time since but instead (to borrow a quote) "they opted for the download route instead......having as they do a habit of wearing dark glasses & pointing a shotgun at their feet".
The really sad part is that it need never be that way. IF there was no insistence on graphical content, a DVD-A could be made to work exactly like a CD - screenless. You can set them up so that the surround stream (if present) is the first one & the stereo one is the second. If the disc is loaded into a player set up for surround then that is what will automatically start to play, but if it is loaded into a stereo one it will access that stream instead (unless the decoder chip does not understand PGC Block DVDA). If stereo is required, pressing the stereo button & the down arrow would get you there (instructions would be in the booklet). Every BluRay player is capable of playing a DVD-A - all it needs is switching on in the firmware - as the codec (MLP Lossless) is the same thing as Dolby True HD is (Dolby True HD is MLP Lossless with additional features available). DVD-A can have 24/192 stereo & 24/96 5.1 in the same group.
For compatibility & legacy access the same trick can be pulled in reverse on t he Video_TS, with the 24/96 PCM stream being number 1 & default, but with either (or both) Dolby Digital & DTS as streams 2 & 3 and accessing these would be the same - audio button, down arrow, enter - job done. You could have a simple on-screen textual display, or you could have bare minimal functionality, or to keep costs down you have nothing visual at all. These titles take a half a day to a day to make so can be done very cheaply.
Visuals are good - please do not get me wrong. I only wanted to point out that there have been alternatives to ordinary CD in high resolution 2.0/5.1 for years now and our industry has chosen to ignore this or forget about it. The initial roll-out was so badly botched it almost felt deliberately so - very few titles, almost no reliable hardware either - too little too soon! It could still be done properly with the right will to do so, but I digress again. The point should be that on a music title, surely the main focus should be on the audio quality, putting the highest possible quality audio on the disc, be it DVD or BD, and then seeing what room you have left for fancy visuals - although high quality visuals are an important part of musical art these days and should definitely not be ignored, I find it odd that with the 3 Oldfields I have (still waiting for "incantations" to arrive as until I read this I did not know it had been done in 5.1) we have a repeating video loop taking up more bits than the surround mix which is indeed presented in perhaps the third worst option possible (with mpeg audio being the very worst and 384kbps AC3 the second worst) with not even a DTS stream in sight - and even worse there is plenty of room on the DVD in all 3 I have to put the 5.1 mix on in MLP Lossless. Replication would cost no more (apart from the few pence changing from DVD5 to DVD9) but authoring would probably double in price. Still well worthwhile given the inclusion of the CD's and to me CD/DVD-AV is still the best option we have in terms of value for money to the artist/label.
BluRay audio discs will be great and there are 2 big advantages: - everything certainly looks a lot better, and there is a lot more room on the disc. The number of players sold is a tiny fraction of the number of DVD players sold though, and therefore a CD/DVD-AV will probably outsell CD/BD combos. Maybe.
The possibility to outsell is there for CD+DVD-A, but a far greater percentage of Blu-ray playback devices will be able to play the lossless high resolution - that is to say approximately 100% if it's PCM and 99.99999% if it's TrueHD or dts-ma when you include the PS3 in the total of devices capable of playback. With CD+DVD-A you're looking at the opposite, perhaps less than 1% of DVD playback devices on the market will be able to play the MLP 5.1 track. In addition I think there will be more Blu-ray players hooked up to better surround systems than DVD players, of course I expect the opposite if you include only those with Universal DVD-A/SACD players.
Some of the master tapes for Incantations have been lost and as a result you're getting only about 50% of it in 5.1 on the new CD+DVD-V, but for Crises and Five Miles Out everything was there. Still it's worth owning and I enjoyed hearing the new 5.1 mix. Bowers and Wilkins said they'll have some exciting announcements coming soon regarding high rez releases so hopefully if Mike is a big high rez proponent then we might get some of the other titles. Neil I'm sure you must have acquired the 24/48 flac 5.1 mix of Tubular Bells by now and agree that it's head and shoulders above the paltry DD version?
I don't see a misconception about Pure Audio, I think the biggest misconception is that Pure Audio is a separate format because there is no white paper for this within the BDA's technical specs. Too many people discuss Profile 3.0 like it's got something to do with the discs, when profiles refer only to players. I put "Pure Audio" in brackets to try and make the distinction that I wasn't referring to Morten Lindberg's releases.
I'm just arriving to the 5.1/surround sound audio format and from what I'm reading, I have a lot of catching up to do. So far, I have everything Steve Wilson has worked on (solo, Porky Tree, King Crimson, Tull, ELP, etc.), "Fragile" surround sound (okay), "Days Of Future Passed" 5.1 (poor), "2112" (also poor), Zappa's Halloween (okay) and Opeth's "Herritage" (okay). As you can read, my taste favors progressive rock and as far as my system, I only have a Blu-Ray player hooked to a Dennon receiver with Klipsch speakers in both front and back. Based on that, what titles do you recommend and what hardware should I acquire (SACD player, etc.)? I'm also shocked with the surround audio tracks of movies. Audio seems to be my favorite use of my surround system.
If your current BD player is playing what you have then you don't really need anything else. What you might want to seriously consider is a high end universal player - along the lines of the Oppo BDP-105. This is designed to maximize audio quality with separate boards & design over the BDP-103 and whether or not you need the 105 over the 103 depends on how good your amplifier & decoder chipset in it actually is. If it is a high end DAC with a top rate audio board then you will be fine with the 103.
The reason I recommend the Oppo so highly is out of personal experience. They play everything, and the Audio editions (always the more expensive) even do a reasonable job on regular CD (a lot of cheaper DVD players simply do not play audio discs very well because of the cheap DAC designs).
Profile 3.0 has been quietly dropped (because it will be impossible to make it backwards compatible with profile 1.0/1.1 players, maybe?).
Pure Audio BluRay as designed by Stefan Bock is an AES approved format and a BDA approved one as well. Universal are queering the pitch here by introducing something totally different with a similar name - it WILL confuse buyers. It is short-sighted, greedy & stupid.
Enjoyprog - if you're referring to NIN when you say "Fragile" you should note that the 5.1 mix has not been released and what's available to download through torrent sites is someone else's mix not from multi-track masters. The real 5.1 mix of The Fragile has been completed and Trent Reznor says it's coming soon. The SACD of Blade Runner will definitely not play in that Panasonic.
Neil - I don't see anything on the blu-raydisc.info site about Bock's "format" - the AES papers describe using existing tools to create a disc that doesn't require having a TV, yet I don't need my TV to be on to play any of my existing Blu-ray discs that contain studio 5.1 mixes on them, they load up and then I press "PLAY" when I hear the menu title. Of course they could be authored better like the 2L discs to start playing immediately, but it wouldn't require a new format. AES may have approved his way of doing it, but the BDA doesn't have a new format for it to the best of my knowledge. Profile 3.0 was dropped because no-one wants to build a player without a video output, whether it's used or not. Having to buy a separate player has always been one of the top 5 reasons why DVD-A/SACD failed (in terms of major label support) because in 2000 you had to buy two very expensive players to play both formats, and have multichannel analogue cables for both. If there isn't a standardized format set by the BDA then I don't see how one is muddying the waters more than the other. The goal of the wording "PURE AUDIO" on the front of the package is to try and prevent people thinking they're getting video content.
I've maintained for several years now that the only way we see major label releases of high resolution surround is if there's added content for mainstream uptake - including high resolution video of the artist performing something, or music videos, or new interviews, or interview pieces from the period of the original album release, then those of us who are just mad hungry for more surround content get what we want (properly mastered high rez surround sound) and those that want additional content help convince the labels to release more content.
Where Universal are messing up is by not defining the source material accurately. You can take a 128 Kbps .mp3 and convert it to 24/96 PCM and that will cover UMe's marketing-speak because all they're saying is the disc content is 24/96. They're also not doing audiophile masterings, the 2nd half of the GRR! disc is all scoring DR5~DR7 and that's not going to cut it with the type of people who might help get this format off the ground. Give me Mike Oldfield's lovely, open, dynamic masterings of Platinum and QE2 (DR12 and DR13 respectively) as 24/96 PCM stereo and I'll buy it.
Thanks, Neil. I've been reading about SACD and was wondering if I should add a SACD player to my system. My Panasonic DMP-BD85's manual says it plays everything but I don't see SACD listed in the list of formats. I see Vangelis' "Bladerunner" is offered in SACD, as well as Peter Gabriel's "Birdy" but I'm not sure if my BluRay player will play those titles.