One word can describe Animusic: Coooooool. Not just cool, but coooooool.
If a concert DVD, a science fiction film, a system demo disc, and a highly refined, uber textured animated film were tossed in a blender, Animusic would be the result. Featuring top-shelf animation, addictively entrancing music, and general sense of bewilderment at the achievement spilling from the screen, the concept is rich with wonder. And, from the looks of this Animusic 2 DVD, the original generated such a positive following that a high-quality sequel is well merited.
Crafted from 100% digital elements, Animusic 2 is audible and visual art presented through a series of song performances from imaginary instruments and mechanical musicians. The detail and textures of these elements are intricate, convoluted, awe-striking – and absolute eye candy to behold. Instead of digital music performed by digital intrsuments, Animusic feels like true crafted mechanisms strumming, drumming, and striking that are accompanied by human-generated tunes. In short, it feels as real as digitally possible.
One terrific thing that these developers have a grip on in Animusic 2 is the attention span of their audience. As each song progresses, the songs and mechanisms seem to shift at all the right moments when the audience is ready for something else. Furthermore, each song is perfect in length. Once the current scenario has played out and exhausted the viewer's attention, the next song pops up. Animusic 2 keeps the tunes fresh and interesting without wearing out their welcome.
How well does Animusic 2 work as a demo disc? Pretty darn well. From a visual standpoint, the video is extremely clean for a standard disc DVD. A fluent palette of colors adorns the screen in a dizzying array of shades and shapes. This disc is so rich with textures, shapes, and fluctuating angles that'll exercise any size screen – whether it be widescreen or fullscreen (both available on the disc).
This second installment from the Animusic universe is separated into 8 performances:
Starship Groove: * * * *
Picture an arrow-shaped spacecraft, much like the ships from Star Wars fame. From the top of this ship rises a pair of mechanical drummers with glowing drumsticks. To each side of these drummers are accompanying low-range and mid-range bass instrument players. It's a very sci-fi piece that continuously reminded this reviewer of the quirky, entertaining charm of the Tri Lambs' electronic performance in Revenge of the Nerds.
Pogo Sticks: * * * *
Returning from the first Animusic, the Pogo Stick characters are the equivalent of large, animated string instruments. Set against an enchanting sunset, these characters roll around a world crafted amidst numerous woodblocks and overlying bridges. Each of these Pogo Sticks has a surprising amount of personality for such a plain design.
Resonant Chamber: * * * * *
The purest and most simplified of all the performances, Resonant Chamber was straight awesome to absorb and behold. A large, acoustic string instrument that contains a range of high-pitched and low-pitched sections adorns an open, airy room. With each string plucked from this odd, yet strangely beautiful instrument, it crafts thick, rich notes that travel amidst the room with beauty.
Cathedral Pictures: * * *
Cathedreal Pictures was the least impressive piece on this disc. While the usage of xylophone-type instruments and brass horns adorning the setting were interesting enough, the color palette and select elements of the scenery were not as engaging as the other portions of the disc. However, the familiar tune that plays and the central xylophone make the piece still worth watching.
Pipe Dream 2: * * * *
One of the most impressive performances on the disc, Pip Dream 2 involves a sewer-type area, a few string instruments, and metal balls repelling off these instruments to create sound. This piece requires further suspended reality than the others due to the unrealistic precision of the flying balls. However, it is this precise hitting of each note that makes the piece immensely entertaining to watch.
Fiber Bundles: * * * .5
Fiber Bundles involves intricate, interwoven strings that attach to bass and treble producing vessels. The deep range and quick interaction with the passing colors into the bass producers is quite a sight. After a while, following all of the fibers throughout the production can grow weary on the eyes. However, trailing these fibers through each path and segment during the piece ends up being a lot of fun.
Gyro Drums: * * * *
Think about those steel, gyrating rings that sit on some people's desks with the heavy metal orbs that spin their correlative circles about. Now picture multiple sets of drums in the center with mechanical drummers as the orbs that help the rings rotate. Gyro Drums is intricate eye candy that spins and swivels with joy.
Heavy Light: * * *.5
Heavy Light is an interesting conclusion to the Animusic 2 disc because of its simplicity. Aside from the acoustic Resonant Chambers, Heavy Light is the simplest production on Animusic 2. Set atop a square-rippled stage, a series of lasers, gongs, and bass-producing light charges round out the final performance. The music is mildly interesting and the presentation is, of course, gorgeous. All in all, Heavy Light is a fitting conclusion.
Whether an individual enjoys a piece of art is like beauty in the eye of the beholder: there's no telling whether Animusic will jive with your tastes or not. However, the unique, intricate nature of the performances, the crisp visuals, and the entertaining nature of the music itself are all alluring reason enough for any viewer to give this Animusic 2 disc a spin.
Animusic comes in a keepcase with coverart representing characters from the first performance.
Animusic 2 is a terrific system demo disc for a reason. The intricate detail, the colors, and the textures presented jump off of the screen in blaring brilliance. Presented in both Fullscreen and Widescreen presentations, Animusic 2's visual presentation is top shelf. While some detail fuzzed up here and there in very minor degrees, the entire package is very, very sharp.
In regards to music that will test a broad range of highs and lows, Animusic 2 definitely gives a set of speakers a workout. Presented in Dolby 5.1 and Dolby 2.0, the aural execution is terrific. As expected from a purely digital source, small detailed sound effects are crisp and background noise is unnoticeable. Each song has a terrific range of highs and lows that'll keep your ears engaged.
Animusic 2 comes with a series of surface level extras that give some decent insight into the performances. These extras include:
Director's Commentary – This director's commentary from Wayne Lytle primarily gives general insight into the craftsmanship regarding the entire project. While quips here and there describe individual elements involved with the specific productions, the commentary remains fairly general. More scene-specific insight would have been welcome. However, the surface-level material that is provided is pretty interesting.
Scene Specific Extras - Each scene sports an extra that gives some mild insight to the specific performance. These include:
- Starship Groove – Multi-Angles
- Pogo Sticks – Rehersal
- Resonant Chamber – split view
- Cathedral Pictures – Set Construction
- Pipe Dream 2 – Render Progression
- Fiber Bundles – Multi-Mix
- Gyro Drums – Split View
- Heavy Light – Set Construction & Close-Ups
Furthermore, some Art Development slides are available that illustrate all the bones, bits, and pieces of crafting the digital concerts. These slides include conceptual drawings, rough 3-D models, and the progression from the rough models to the real deal.
Animusic 2 probably won't be for everybody. However, this reviewer found these performances to be engaging, fun to watch, and a workout for his home theater. Animusic 2 comes Recommended as a venture outside of the normal animated fair or concert DVD.
Thomas Spurlin, Staff Reviewer -- DVDTalk Reviews | Personal Blog/Site