I'm both happy and disappointed with the DVD release of From the Basement. I'm happy that it was released at all, but disappointed that this is all we've been given.
From the Basement is a podcast-cum-Brit-TV-series featuring live performances from alt-rockers. Launched on iTunes in December 2006, the show now appears stateside on the Independent Film Channel in edited form. Created by music producer/engineer Nigel Godrich, best known for his studio work with Radiohead, From the Basement is shot in a recording studio without an audience, host, set decoration or other distraction. Recorded on HD-video using a minimum of three cameras, the show has a professional quality that far exceeds anything on network American television.
Though the podcast has completed twelve hour-long episodes to date, this DVD release is only 129 minutes culled from the first six episodes. The performers and songs featured are as follows:
The recording space is professionally outfitted but spartan. The recording booth is occasionally heard at the beginning or end of a song, but never seen. Nigel Godrich's From the Basement is about the music, and only the music.
- Radiohead - "All I Need"
- Radiohead - "Reckoner"
- The White Stripes - "Blue Orchid" / "Party Of Special Things To Do"
- The White Stripes - "Red Rain"
- Beck - "Motorcade"
- Beck - "Cellphone's Dead"
- Jamie Lidell - "In The City"
- The Shins - "Turn On Me"
- The Shins - "Phantom Limb"
- Jarvis Cocker - "Fat Children"
- Neil Hannon - "A Lady Of A Certain Age"
- Laura Marling - "Your Only Doll (Dora)"
- Sonic Youth - "The Sprawl"
- Sonic Youth - "Pink Steam"
- Eels- "Millicent Don't Blame Yourself"
- Eels- "It's a Motherfucker"
- Albert Hammond Jr. - "Everyone Gets A Star"
- Albert Hammond Jr. - "Postal Blowfish"
- P J Harvey - "The Piano"
- P J Harvey - "The Devil"
- Super Furry Animals - "Let The Wolves Howl At The Moon"
- Super Furry Animals - "The Gift That Keeps Giving"
- Damien Rice - "Delicate"
- Damien Rice - "The Blower's Daughter"
- Autolux - "Let It Be Broken"
- José González - "Abram"
- José González - "How Low"
- Thom Yorke - "Down Is The New Up"
- Thom Yorke - "Videotape"
The packaging for this release from Eagle Rock Entertainment consists of cardboard and press-foam which might be environmentally-friendly, but isn't well-engineered to hold the DVD in place. Look out for scratches.
The disc menu features individual song selection or a play-all option.
The image is presented in an anamorphic 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Image detail, color, and contrast is on par for modern HD video. Unfortunately, the image is interlaced owing to a PAL-to-NTSC conversion with ghosting and aliasing evident.
Audio options include DD 2.0 and 5.1, and 5.1 DTS. Audio quality sounds superb without being overly manipulated. Any fears that the sound engineering is underdone are dispelled by the masterfully recorded "Cellphone's Dead" by Beck.
Though I'd much prefer to have seen complete series sets, this release obviously is better than nothing. If you enjoy the performers featured here, you'll no doubt enjoy this enough to want to own it. However, if you have a region-free DVD player, you'll probably want to seek out the UK release to avoid the image problems caused by the PAL-to-NTSC conversion on the Region 1 release.