Over their four-decade career, Duran Duran has traversed diverse musical landscapes, from New Wave pop to ‘70s funk, weaving influences from bands like Roxy Music to Chic. On their 16th release "Danse Macabre,", the iconic quartet delves into a haunting realm, inspired by their 2022 Halloween show in Las Vegas.
Of note here is the exclusive limited-edition Blu-ray offered by SDE of the album, which spans 13 tracks, navigating through reimagined classics, alluring covers, and new compositions, creating an immersive tapestry that exudes an eerie charm. The disc sold out during its initial run and has already been lauded by fans for the superlative mix created by the legendary audio engineer Bob Clearmountain. The Blu-ray contains a Dolby Atmos Mix, a 48kHz / 24-bit 5.1 Surround Mix, and a Hi-Res Stereo 96kHz / 24-bit mix.
Personally, I am not a fan of the sound of the band, and much of 1980’s New Wave for that matter. While I have collected many of the SDE surround series Blu-rays, I chose to stream the Atmos mix of the album via Apple Music instead. I must admit the mix is top notch, and certainly makes good use of the Atmos 7.1 bed. Even the compressed stream sounds very good to my ears, but certainly those pressing play on the Blu-ray will experience greater depth and dynamics.
Checking out the music, Mark Ronson's magic resurfaces in "Black Moonlight," reminiscent of the collaborative brilliance seen in 2010's "All You Need is Now." The song radiates with a characteristic Duran Duran groove, enhanced by Nile Rodgers' guitar artistry and Victoria De Angelis' bass prowess. Its party vibe, coupled with a "Thriller" ambiance, makes it a standout, possibly the perfect conclusion to the original quintet's journey.
Duran Duran reimagine a compelling cover of The Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer." Faithful yet funkier, the collaboration between John Taylor and De Angelis on double bass adds depth. Le Bon's dramatic vocals, coupled with prominent cymbals and percussion, make this rendition an ideal marriage to the song's quirky 1977 origins.
A gem from their 1981 debut, "Nightboat," receives a revitalizing treatment. The song, often overlooked, is now denser and lusher, featuring matured vocals from Le Bon. The guitars slash harder, and the drums build to a captivating climax, making it an essential inclusion in an album themed around shadowy strangeness.
The return of original guitarist Andy Taylor and the presence of longtime friend Nile Rodgers, along with fresh talents like Victoria De Angelis, contribute to the album's unique texture. The collaboration between Taylor and De Angelis on "Psycho Killer" is particularly noteworthy, showcasing the band's ability to blend experience with contemporary flair. For those crafting a playlist with the theme of shadowy strangeness, look no further.
Considering the Atmos mix some more Clearmountain has made fantastic use of the side and back surrounds even with some panning around the room. However, the height channels are lightly utilized, typically for keyboards and additional vocals and focus toward the back. I like how the lead vocals have been mostly isolated in the center speaker. I have found Clearmountain’s Atmos mixes to be predominantly channel‑based rather than object‑based. Using this mixing method, technically the Atmos bed channels do not differentiate between the front and rear height speakers, causing the height speakers to become four stationary objects.
Strongly recommended for fans of Duran Duran, those seeking a mesmerizing collection of tunes that seamlessly intertwines the band's legacy with a newfound haunting allure. Also recommended for Atmos immersionists, the album surely is a showcase of their enduring artistry and innovation after four decades in the industry.
Released October 27, 2023.
Blu-ray SDE Surround Series limited edition with Dolby Atmos, 5.1 48kHz / 24-bit, and 96kHz / 24-bit stereo mixes. Also available on CD, Vinyl, download and via streaming platforms, including Atmos mix.
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About the Author
Wesley is a lifelong music enthusiast. He started his career in the recording industry in New York City as an audio engineer, producer, and studio manager. Subsequently he toured across America as a guitarist with the short-lived band Land's Crossing. After many years in the technology sector and amassing a substantial vinyl and CD collection, he delved into immersive audio and created Hi-Res Edition to share with other listeners about the sound quality and discrete mixes available on many formats. He recently upgraded his system to 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos and continues to seek out and share about the best sounding releases.