Review Summary: Stupid Dream gets revamped with new packaging a remastered stereo mix of the album and stunning 5.1 surround mix with a few bonus extras. The end result is truly an epic work of audio engineering virtuosity.
When it comes to owning DVD-A albums, you can't go wrong. Sure, mixing an album in 5.1 surround sound can be a daunting task, but in the long run it gives the music more feeling, depth and audio clarity that a regular stereo mix of an album can't achieve. If your a fan of Porcupine Tree's unique blend of progressive, psychedelic and heavy metal, owning at least one of their 5.1 surround sound albums is a must, and starting of with this 2006 re-mix and remaster two disc set version of 1999's Stupid Dream
is great choice for audio enthusiasts and PT fans.
Like all the many Porcupine Tree re-issues out there, PT frontman and mastermind, Steven Wilson is in charge of remixing & remastering these careful works of art. The end result is truly an epic work of virtuosity.
There are many differences from the 1999 issue of the album starting with the most notable change, the cover art work and liner notes. The first pressing had a guy in an astronaut suit inspecting CD's in a wafer lab. The band apparently wasn't satisfied with the end result of the album artwork so they scrapped it completely and none of original pieces make an encore appearance in this edition. But the theme of sterilizing CD's is still the universal theme of the artwork. The packaging is rich and feels luxurious, with a sturdy 14 page booklet featuring awesome artwork from famed director and artist, Lasse Holie, album credits and lyrics (which were a tad difficult to read in the first pressing of the album). Everything is just better than the original in this aspect. Also included is a cardboard sleeve to protect the jewel case from scratches which is always nice.
The remastered stereo CD and 5.1 DVD-A.
One of the main noted differences between the 2006 stereo mix of the album and the 1999 mix is how the soundstage of the music has greater improved range. Some great things were done in the studio fore example, the instruments, most notably the snare are pushed forward a bit more in the mix and the recording sounds warmer. The guitar tone hasn't changed much but the way the bass in reproduced is a better and sounds more clean. Gone are some of the drops in audio in the original mix and Steven's voice is more clean and audible. Steven really knows his stuff as an audio engineer and utilizes all the speakers studious. You'll hear Steven's immortal voice over your right shoulder, whilst hearing snares and cymbals slam and chatter over your left , a booming bass in the center and a cacophonous array of guitar and samples coming from the front. All in all, this re-mix has a huge improvement over the elementary version. Make sure you have your surround sound configured properly though to fully enjoy this version of the album.
Besides having a stunning 5.1 mix of the original album, Porcupine Tree decided to add two previously unreleased tracks exclusively mixed in 5.1. The original 14+ minute length album opener, Even less
which is absolutely beautiful and the no less than perfect instrumental, Ambulance Chasing.
It doesn't stop there though, folks. Porcupine Tree also decided to add the video for Piano Lessons
which is in my opinion, the best PT video the band came up with. It just so original and well crafted. Ironing a CD? Sounds ludicrous I know, but its on there! Go Youtube it if you haven't seen it yet. Also amongst all the awesome bonus stuff, a myriad collection of live photos is added to the DVD for your enjoyment. The pictures, I thought could have been a bit better and some are just pointless to have on there. But this fault doesn't bring down the quality of this release at all.
What hasn't been said about this album that hasn't been said yet? This was the first step to producing a more commercial and accessible sound in PT's music. And that isn't a con whatsoever. All the tracks on this album are amazing. Songs like the melancholy, Pure Narcotic
, Don't Hate Me
and A Smart Kid
are my personal favorites from the album. They express so much emotion and the lyrics are pure genius. Don't Hate Me
features a spine-chilling saxaphone solo from Theo Travis. With this song, you can tell PT expanded their horizons. There are of course heavier moments in the album evident in songs like Even Less
, This Is No Rehearsal
and the instrumental Tinto Brass
which should all make the fans of PT's heavier side happy.
All the songs on the album are so dramatic and build up more and more until they reach a climax most notably the album's opener and A Smart Kid
. The bass line delivered by Colin Edwin in A Slave Called Shiver
is among one of his best and drives the song. In the end all the tracks work exceptionally well. The title track, which is just filler, so go ahead and skip that number and I am not to fond of Baby Dream In Cellophane
which disappointments me because it doesn't have that building climax that all the other songs possess.
So if your a fan of Porcupine Tree and you don't own this, I suggest you pick this up. If your just getting into PT start with In Absentia
and then move on to this. But really it doesn't matter because they are both opuses in PT's discography.