Quatermass CD+DVD, Deluxe Edition, Double CD, NTSC
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Audio CD, CD+DVD, Deluxe Edition, 15 Jul 2013
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Esoteric Recordings are pleased to announce the release of a Two disc Deluxe edition of the self titled album by QUATERMASS. Originally released in 1970 on the Harvest label, Quatermass is one of the most remarkable albums of the era. Featuring PETER ROBINSON (Keyboards), JOHN GUSTAFSON (Bass, Vocals) and MICK UNDERWOOD (Drums, Percussion), Quatermass were one of the most imaginative groups of the Progressive era. Their unique brand of powerful progressive rock encompassed classical music and hard rock, a unique combination that influenced contemporaries such as Deep Purple (indeed Ritchie Blackmore covered Black Sheep of the Family on the first Rainbow album). This Esoteric Recordings edition features stunning new mixes by Peter Robinson in both Stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound, along with three bonus tracks, two of which are previously unreleased. The set also features a lavishly illustrated booklet with new essay written by Peter Robinson
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Contrary to some reports on the internet, the 5.1 surround mix(on the DVD included with this 2-disc set) is not all simulated surround sound. Much of it is real surround sound, but much of it from "stage two" multi tracks, after 8-track to 8-track, 8-track to 6-track, 8-track to 4-track or 8-track to 3-track reductions. Back in the days of 4-track & 8-track recording, if the artist wanted to add more overdubs(after all the tape tracks were filled), the engineer would mix the original first generation tracks down to 2 or 4 "reduced" tracks and record those onto a second 4-track or 8-track machine, opening up tracks(on that second tape machine) for further overdubs. For many of these songs, all that could be found were the "stage two" tapes(I.E. after the reductions).
What you get on the surround sound DVD is as follows:
One Blind Mice(from the original first generation 8-track tape. There were apparently no reduction mixes needed for this song.)
Entropy(simulated surround from the existing stereo mix)
Black Sheep of The Family(from an 8-track to 4-track reduction. For whatever reasons, this 4-track does not contain John Gustafson's harmony vocal. My guess is that it may have been added live during stereo mix down.)
Post-War Saturday Echo(from an 8-track to 3-track reduction. All of the previously recorded elements had, by this point, been mixed to stereo. Another track was used to add Moog synthesizer.)
Good Lord Knows(from the original 8-track tape)
Up On The Ground(From an 8-track to 6-track reduction, presumably an 8-track tape on which only 6 tracks had been used.)
Gemini(from an 8-track to 6-track reduction)
Make Up Your Mind/What Was That/Make Up Your Mind(Reprise)(Simulated Surround sound from the existing stereo mix)
Laughin' Tackle(from an 8-track to 8-track reduction)
Punting(simulated surround sound from the existing stereo mix)
Afraid Not(a rehearsal of a backing track for an unfinished song. Recorded in a rehearsal room direct to 2-track with a few microphones. No multitrack or professional recording ever existed. This is presented in simulated surround.)
Bluegaloo/Broken Chords/Scales(a 1974 stereo soundboard cassette live in Montreal 1974. Fortunately, the sound quality is excellent, and the recording is presented in simulated 3.1 sound. The rear channels are silent. This recording is more in a jazz-rock fusion style, and features a new line-up. Peter Robinson & John Gustafson are joined by a new drummer, a percussionist and a guitarist.)
My only complaint about the remixes(given what was available to mix from) is that Peter Robinson(who did the remix) strips away all the echo and reverb that had been used on John Gustafson's voice (in the original mix), and(on the tracks that are in genuine surround sound) presents Gustafson's voice totally "dry" and much further out in front of the instruments(versus the original mix)
The surround sound remix appears on the DVD in either Dolby Digital or DTS formats, and the DVD also presents a new stereo mix as lossless PCM. No word on whether the resolution and bit rate of this stereo mix are the same as on the CD(44.1Khz/16-bit) or something better. None of my disc players' displays revealed the information.
The original stereo mix(as offered on CD by the Repertoire label) remains the definitive mix, but its interesting to hear these alternatives....and two previously unreleased tracks.
Quatermass is a bit more funky than ELP and has a sound that reminds me of some King Crimson from the early 1970s. This is a very interesting album that is quite unique from that era of musical experimentation and before the time where money, business is more important than the music.
The booklet is very informative and does explain in detail about how the 5.1 mixes were completed from missing multi-track tapes.
I did hear a digital noise during the 2nd song on the DVD in DTS mode. The CD sound is great but has been mastered at a higher volume than I prefer.
Overall this is a lost classic that is no longer lost.
Your comments were welcome and useful. With respect, though, your comment regarding the vocal which, in your opinion, "strips away all the echo and reverb that had been used on John Gustafson's voice (in the original mix), and(on the tracks that are in genuine surround sound) presents Gustafson's voice totally "dry" and much further out in front of the instruments (versus the original mix)". I can only say that it sounds like your centre channel is too loud. I suggest that you get a cheap SPL meter and make all your speakers the same level (usually 85 dB). It's a common mistake in consumer 5.1 systems that the user tends to increase the volume of the centre channel in order to hear dialogue clearly when watching a film or TV show. While it is tru that I did place John Gustafson's vocals in the centre channel exclusively, the reverb and delays on that vocal which I placed in the left, right and surround channels were painstakingly balanced that, when a correct set-up of the listener's system is utilised, the vocals should be perfectly balanced between the 3 front speakers with additional reverb/delays occurring in the surrounds.
A good way to check if you're not sure about the band/vocal balance, is to play the CD which should give you a prerfect example of the intended mix ( irrespective of whether you like it or not) . When switching between 2 channel stereo and 5.1 channel surround, the mix should, and will, sound identical if the surround system is set up correctly. Hope this helps.
J. Peter Robinson
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