Germany based art rock band RPWL has followed up their celebrated album “Beyond Man and Time” with their 2014 multi format release “Wanted.” Available as a limited edition CD and DVD with 5.1 Dolby-Digital surround sound, which includes the bonus track "Still Asleep" on DVD only. For analog audiophiles, a double vinyl version is available, as well as a single CD copy.
For high resolution fans, like myself, it is surprising that “Wanted” is only available as a Dolby Digital surround version on the DVD disc. This compressed audio codec is available on literally every DVD and Bluray player worldwide, but limits the quality desired by hi-res enthusiasts. The overall mix is thin, possibly a result of the choice to use Dolby Digital over a less lossy codec like DTS or providing a LPCM version for fans who have the equipment that supports lossless playback.
Putting aside these shortcomings, RPWL has created an extremely good surround mix that allows the music to breathe around the listener. While the usual bass, lead vocals, and drums are up front, the rear channels are chalk full of guitars, keyboards, and additional vocals.
I first previewed the full album at progstreaming.com, which showcases new releases by progressive music artists from around the world for a month or two. RPWL fits somewhat into the prog-rock genre, but crosses over into several other categories including pop-rock, electronica, hard-rock, and a dash of the acoustic neo-prog sound. This diversity makes for a difficult pigeon holing of the bands overall genre, but is likely to be enjoyed by progressive rock fans with a pop leaning.
Sweet treatments in the surround mix include the movement of marching feet heading off to the right and back into the rear right channel on Swords and Guns. The gentle and somewhat eerie A Clear Cut Line takes the movement further by sweeping synth parts between the back channels, along with swirling parts moving across the front and sliding to the surrounds. Hide and Seek makes excellent use of ambient space with the vocals and acoustic guitar subtly decaying in the rear channels. As the intensity builds, the organ tensely pierces from the rears reminding surround fans like myself how great multi-channel mixes can really immerse a listener.
My favorite track is the DVD exclusive “Still Asleep” which has a bit of a Pink Floyd prog-rock feel, and includes a fantastic guitar solo at the end. The acoustic guitar leads off the song with vocals that build throughout the piece with backing vocals cementing the surround mix from both of the rear channels. This song alone makes the purchase of the limited edition DVD and CD set totally worth it.
Recommended for rock and prog-rock fans, along with surround sound enthusiasts. “Wanted” is surely one of the better multi-channel mixes available in 2014 and is certain to be enjoyed by fans around the world.
CD and DVD 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound. Also available on Vinyl.
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