Fly By Night
Music 4 out of 5 stars Mix 4.5 out of 5 stars
A Farewell To Kings
Music 4.5 out of 5 stars Mix 3.5 out of 5 stars
Music 3.5 out of 5 stars Mix 3.5 out of 5 stars
WHAT BETTER WAY for Richard Chycki to follow his surround version of Rush's 1981 masterpiece, Moving Pictures, than to do mixes (on 6-channel DVD-Audio) of three more albums culled from the bands Mercury years and to sprinkle them among the box sets encompassing that entire output?
First up, in the Sector 1 box, is 1975's Fly by Night. Could there be a more suitable battle cry announcing the arrival of drummer and lyricist Neil Peart than the opening manifesto, "Anthem"? In surround, it's a true assault: Peart gallops muscularly down the middle, while guitarist Alex Lifeson's signature fretboard slides/parries and bassist Geddy Lee's vocal echoes are peppered decisively in the rear. And the many textures and snarls that pop up all around "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" are rabidly thrilling.
Sector 2 has 1977's A Farewell to Kings, its expansive aesthetic in full bloom on the title track. Even better is the mix of "Xanadu," with chirping birds and woodsy percussion adding the proper sweeteners alongside Lee's omnipresent Mini-Moog synthesizer, which buttresses the songs all-channel, guitar-driven attack rather than overwhelming it. Meanwhile, the closing "Cygnus X-1" chillingly takes advantage of surround-channel impact with ominous bells tolling back and forth.
The final member of this troika, in Sector 3, is 1982's Signals, perhaps the most difficult album to mix due to its denser keyboard arrangements. That said, Chycki finds just about the right balance between synth and ax on "Subdivisions," and he sorts out the frenetic drama of "Countdown." The best sequences come via the front-to-back electric-violin accompaniment and solo turn by guest Ben Mink throughout the melancholy deep cut "Losing It." Overall, though, Signals is a mixed bag.
What's next? In 2012, can we expect a definitive surround version of 2112 to assume control and inherit the earth? Please?