A year after the fantastic deluxe multi-channel release of Anthony Phillips pastoral The Geese And The Ghost, hi-res surround sound fans received a definitive deluxe 2016 reissue of his more lavish, textured, and song-orientated 1978 album Wise After the Event. Featuring a 2016 stereo mix of the album, a newly re-mastered version of the 1978 stereo mix, and a region free NTSC DVD that contains a 2016 5.1 surround sound mix, fans also will get a third CD of demos, out-takes and extras,
Originally produced by Rupert Hine, this well regarded progressive rock release has been extended to a 3 CD / 1 DVD box set. Blending Progressive ambition with accessible songwriting and delicate acoustic interludes,the album's guest players include Michael Giles, Mel Collins and John G Perry.
The MLP 24-bit / 48kHz surround layer sounds wonderfully warm with an excellent analog feel. There are no zingy top frequencies that over shadow the lower and upper mid-range, with a softness holding down the lower regions. I don’t exactly miss the shimmer at the top end, but certainly have come to appreciate 24/96 mixes that accentuate the entire range, and wish this had been released as such.
Use of the back channels is extremely tasteful, with creative subtleness and immersive weighting among all channels which vary among the sections and songs. I especially dig the horn sounding synth part from the back channel on “Birdsong,” which really adds separation and depth to the mix, along with Phillips solo guitar work that stretches across the soundstage prior to the Reprise section.
The title track is a prime example of an immersive mix where the listener will be surrounded by guitars with bass, drums, and vocals spread across the front. Note that the center channel doesn’t get too much action, but pay careful attention as its uses are wonderfully artistic.
The multi-channel mix is pretty darn clean, and the music perfectly pleasant for a chill out listening experience. Yes, musically there is oomph which will most likely wake any spirit, with driving percussion and soaring vocal lines, all in a very contemplative way. “Paperchase” is another great mix that moves between subtle and immersive surround with nice piano parts emanating from the rear channels and vocal harmonies placed widely across the front.
As the album nears the end, my personal favorite track “Now What (Are They Doing to My Little Friend-)” is pure 5.1 heaven with robust tom toms striking in the left and right front channels along with a very wet piano which dreamily fills all corners of the room. If it hasn’t already been evident, dynamics are great with wide range between soft and loud parts, and as high resolution enthusiasts would expect there is no edgy fatigue present.
One really nice aspect to this production is I really heard no discernable coloration difference between the 5.1 and MLP 24-bit / 48kHz lossless stereo version, other than the flatten of the mix down to two channels. The separation and dynamics are fully retained, which is perfect for two channel enthusiasts.
I only wish the extras had been added to the DVD, otherwise this is truly an awesome release from Anthony Phillips. Wise After the Event is a must have for all prog-rock fans, and especially those who love Genesis. The surround mix is truly excellent, and a must have for 5.1 collectors. Enjoy!