What happens when you combine electronic music and computer animation? Animusic, that's what! The original Animusic release came out back in 2004 and was met with varying opinions from critics. The collection of seven music videos for songs that you never heard before coupled with industrial (and instrumental) themed CGI meant that the DVD was targeting a specific audience. You had to be really interested in the concept in order to appreciate it otherwise the content had the potential to bore or bewilder you. The original release was apparently successful enough though to warrant a sequel so fans will want to pay attention.
This time around the musical numbers have been bumped up every so slightly. On the last volume there were seven videos present but in the sequel there are eight. Just like the original they each range greatly in musical quality and subject matter. The interest in song choice and overall animation is purely up to the person watching it. Something that I found impressive or catchy may fall upon deaf ears to someone else. That's the beauty of music and forms of art like Animusic; its quality is always up for debate.
The music videos that appear this time around are "Starship Groove", "Pogo Sticks", "Resonant Chamber", "Cathedral Pictures", "Pipe Dream 2", "Fiber Bundles", "Gyro Drums", and "Heavy Light".
In "Starship Groove" a few robots emerge from a big spaceship and begin belting out the opening tune. A pair of robots pound away at their chests which are basically keyboards of some sort. The red and blue color scheme and blocky design reminded me of Rock Em Sock Em Robots. Some drum playing bots show up in the middle and a fifth rises into the background as the ship explodes in a flurry of lights. This was a decent one with some great syncing, but there are better numbers on this disc.
"Pogo Sticks" was kind of a boring video in my opinion. A group of guitar-like instruments roll around on a track while playing a tune. I don't know if it was the design of the environment or the song, but something about the track just didn't click with me. "Resonant Chamber" however, proved to be much more creative in execution. Instead of featuring a group of instruments it focuses on one larger one that involves a lot of hands operating its various arms. The song was a little more subdued than I'd care for, but I really appreciated the design.
"Cathedral Pictures" was interesting because it was basically a huge church pipe organ and featured a lot of moving parts. Granted it wasn't anywhere near as impressive as "Pipe Dream 2" as far as complexity is concerned, but it was set to "Pictures of an Exhibition" by Mussorgsky. On the first Animusic the "Pipe Dream" video was easily the best with some very slick animation. The same can be said for the sequel as metal balls are strewn about in orderly fashion and in step with the tempo. This was probably the best track on the disc.
"Fiber Bundles" was another complex animation with several different facets to pay attention to. There are a bunch of tubes full of neon light that shoot all over the screen and little other bits that light up or drop from the ceiling as the song goes on. Again, this particular music wasn't my style, but when seen in conjunction with the animation the effect is pretty decent. I was significantly less impressed by "Gyro Drums" and found it to be yet another boring addition to the disc. Sure there are quite a few bits to pay attention to, but the video starts out slow and doesn't really go anywhere. Lastly "Heavy Light" was a flashy light show on top of a pyramid with some very ambient and low key sounds. It was a good way to close out the collection here, but not an entirely strong finish in my opinion.
You really need to be the type of person to appreciate electronic music in order to get into Animusic 2. Out of the eight tracks present here I actually only like a few of the songs and found "Pipe Dream 2" and "Fiber Bundles" to be the only ones really worth going out of your way to check out. With just under forty minutes in running time and variable quality this is an obscure title that a rare few will really get into.
Animusic 2 is presented with your choice of full screen or widescreen. Seemingly cut straight from the digital source the video quality for the show is phenomenal. Everything absolutely pops from the mechanized musicians to the neon light pulses of light. I don't have a single complaint about the image's presentation.
Just like the original Animusic the sequel includes Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 tracks. The 2.0 track is decent enough with a nice range for a stereo presentation, but the 5.1 is where things really start to draw you in. The channel mix is very intuitive and each of the songs here uses the surround set up very well. The audio is fortunately just about as crisp as the video is, so that means this is prime stuff to showcase your home theater with.
A decent amount of bonus material is included on the disc if you're interested in checking it out. Each of the videos has a set of still images from conceptual artwork to finalization for characters and backgrounds. The videos also include their own extra features, plus you can loop the DVD if you want the music to run constantly.
"Starship Groove" offers three alternate camera angles, "Pogo Sticks" showcases some rehearsal video, "Resonant Chamber" gives us multiple views of the different hands, and "Cathedral Pictures" takes us through the piecing together of the video. "Pipe Dream 2" breaks the video down to its barebones graphics and includes various stages of its development, "Fiber Bundles" offers various animation mixes, "Gyro Drums" breaks the video into four segments, and "Heavy Light" constructs the video and includes some close-ups. Wayne Lytle also put together a commentary for this release that is very informational. He goes into details about the concept behind the instruments, some of the execution, and inspiration behind the music. The commentary is decent enough though I always tend to find solo commentaries somewhat dry.
If you're a fan of the first Animusic then you'll definitely want to check out the sequel. It's basically more of the same with some better animation and newer ideas. The only problem is that this release caters to a very specific audience. I've always been picky about my music and most of what's here isn't quite my style, though I did enjoy "Pipe Dream 2" and "Fiber Bundles" because of their creativity. The other videos unfortunately range from decent to droll.