Super Furry Animals - Phantom Power DVD

By liz

Super Furry Animals - Phantom Power
Review by James Freeman

I got my copy of the SFA "Phantom Power" DVD in the mail today [I decided I didn't want to wait until September 9, so I ordered a UK copy].

First, the bad. The videos - if you can call them that - are b-o-r-i-n-g for the most part. 'Liberty Belle' and 'Golden Retriever' are okay, but I must admit I watched most of them in fast forward. Believe them when they say the DVD is all about the 5.1 mix and not the visuals. [Not having a 5.1 system, I can't comment as to if that was a worthy sacrifice or not, though I've heard from others it is.] Also, there's no play all feature for the remixes or the video and animation version of the album. There is an option that lets you hear the whole album with a (very) slightly changing wallpaper which has me scratching my head in complete confusion, but more on that later. The producers commentary is barely there and hardly worth a listen.

Then, the good. Once again, the remixes are quite good. The navigation is tons better than on the "Rings" DVD - each song has a gorgeous menu where you can select to play the song, hear the remix [or remixes if applicable, though you have to use the audio angle button on your DVD player to access the second remix which frustratingly isn't noted anywhere on the DVD packaging itself], view the lyrics, or hear the producer's commentary. A lot of work obviously went into the menus, and it certainly paid off! The animations that precede each track are wonderful too. It's a shame they're as short as they are - if each was developed to stand in as a video for each song, this would've been an absolutely killer DVD. Then there's a fun but rather inconsequential short hidden clip of the Furries playing with machine guns, harking back to the clip of them throwing the television out the window on the "It's Not the End of the World?" DVD.

So how's it do overall? It's good, but it's incredibly frustrating how, with a little more work, it could've been so much better. The band are claiming that the visuals are purposely not engaging so as not to take away from the audio, stressing that the DVD is an audio medium. While this is undeniably true, a standard DVD is also a visual medium - if they had simply wanted to create a 5.1 mix for home consumption, there's the option of DVD-audio. Especially with the inclusion of the "wallpaper" version of the album on the DVD - for lack of a better term - there really wasn't any reason to not make more exciting videos for the album, especially with the Pete Fowler introductions as potential base material. No play all function for the remixes is rather annoying too - less so for the album versions as the animations would interrupt the flow of the album anyways, though it might have been nice to have them as a separate play all function.

If you're only excited about the "video for each song" aspect, save yourself some money and skip this one. Otherwise, even though you're bound to be disappointed with at least one aspect of it, this is a pretty packed DVD [2 full-length albums plus extras, not bad!] that's worth tracking down - though also worth waiting until the domestic release for.