My autographed copy (#219!) of Thomas Dolby‘s “The Sole Inhabitant” concert DVD arrived in the mail today from CD Baby and I spent a really great evening getting through the contents despite a couple of little flaws in the package.
The main content is the concert from September 28th 2006 at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston. Being a big fan of Thomas Dolby’s music means that it was worth it just to hear some great live arrangements of several of his classic songs, but the video presentation by Johnny DeKam really made it fun to keep my eyes open instead of just blissing out to the music. Using several cameras, video effects, and sometimes the video footage that accompanied the live music, the imagery is very suitable and comes off as very professional even though there is obviously very few people behind the production. The concert itself is presented in two formats: with the introductions between songs, and without the introductions between songs. I tend to like to hear what a performer has to say as much as what they play so I stuck with the version with introductions and was not displeased. The concert is fairly well constructed and moves well between numbers. The monologue’s between tracks are to the point and show an old hand to the stage successfully getting his sea legs back after being ashore for an awfully long time.
Also on the disc are several extras: “Rig Voyage” is a portion of a presentation given to students at the venue, “Building a Song” is a narrated clip from the TED 2006 conference, and “Studio Interview” is exactly as billed. “Rig Voyage” was a pretty interesting look at the content of his current hardware setup and some notes about the equipment he started his career with. “Building a song” was a nice, if quite short, version of something he also does in the show but with a simple narration that helps follow along with the technique. It is also the only video on the disc that is shot in widescreen but unfortunately is inexplicably fairly grainy. There are also a couple of small audio glitches that almost ruin the clip. I’m not sure if those are from the source material or the disc mastering but I actually went to the trouble of verifying it on several players and machines and they were present every single time. “Studio Interview” is a pretty good interview with Thomas Dolby talking about his careers in music, business, and family and manages to not quite say anything concrete about where he plans to go in the future except that there will be more music which is probably all that we really need to know at this point.
Besides the audio glitches in “Building a song” there are a couple of flaws in the mastering of the disc that make for some slight irritation with the packaging. When all of the extras are played, instead of returning to the menu the disc stops. On two of the players that I tried the disc on hitting Play after an extra finishing stopped the disc starts the “Concert (with intros)” track instead of bringing up the main menu which means an extra button press to get to that menu so you can see something else. I also found the low end of the sound to be a bit spotty sometimes making my subwoofers do their jobs and other times sounding decidedly empty in that range. Still, I’ve certainly seen worse and the disc as a whole is functional if more rough than I had expected.
There’s plenty here for a fan, and it’s probably worth watching for someone into electronic music and/or 80’s pop, but if you don’t count yourself in any of those groups I can’t see it keeping your interest.