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Alanis Morissette: Under Rug Swept
Warner Bros. // DVD Audio // October 15, 2002
List Price: $17.98 [Buy now and save at Dvdempire]
1. 21 Things I Want In A Lover
3. Hands Clean
5. So Unsexy
6. Precious Illusions
7. That Particular Time
8. A Man
9. You Owe Me Nothing in Return
SOUND: "Under Rug Swept" is presented by Warner Music in both Dolby Digital 5.1 (for DVD-Video players) and 96khz/24-bit 5.1 for DVD-Audio players. While I enjoyed many of the songs on this album, I was never quite as thrilled with the production sound. While Morissette's prior albums have always offered crisp, clear instrumentals and vocals (especially the accoustic "MTV: Unplugged" performance), this album's instrumentals didn't always sound quite right to my ear, occasionally seeming a bit flat and muddled.
This DVD-Audio presentation does improve upon the CD's mix and general feel, but still doesn't really highlight the singer's wonderful voice or spread out the instrumentals around the room in a particularly inspired way. Morissette's main vocals are isolated in the center speaker, with backing/additional vocals spread out across the front main speakers and occasionally, into the surrounds. While I occasionally enjoy this approach, Morissette's vocals need more room to breathe and should have been given more consistent presence across all three front speakers.
While instrumentals occasionally are offered by the surrounds, their use seems more along the lines of reinforcing the front speakers than distinctly spreading out the instrumentals around the listening space (see Bela Fleck's "Bluegrass Sessions Vol. 2" DVD-Audio for probably the best example of surround creating the feeling of sitting in the middle of a band playing I've heard). The surrounds are also pretty subdued or completely silent on this album's share of quieter tunes. While they kick in on tunes like "Hands Clean", "So Unsexy" and "Precious Illusions", their use never really adds a whole lot to the experience.
As previously noted, audio quality is not really up to expectations. As I was never terribly thrilled with the sound of the CD, I wasn't surprised to find that the DVD-Audio presentation - while an improvement on the CD - really doesn't offer the kind of depth, clarity and detail to the sound that some of the best titles on the format do. Morisette's voice is clear, but the sound mix could have given it more presence and pulled it more forward in the audio. A sizable amount of bass is present on some of the louder songs, but nothing too major. I liked this album, but maybe the singer's "Unplugged" performance or "Jagged Little Pill" album would have translated to DVD-Audio better. Extras on the DVD-Audio include a 21-minute "making of" for the album and a photo gallery.
Final Thoughts: I'm a fan of Morissette and enjoyed the music on this album, but the DVD-Audio is disapointingly average, not really highlighting the singer's vocals as well as they deserve to be, nor really spreading the instrumentals around the listening space well. Fans may still enjoy this improvement over the CD, but this isn't DVD-Audio demo material. Recommended for fans.