Appellate Judge Rob Lineberger thinks they spent so much energy on creating a perfect circle that they didn't have any left to create a perfect DVD.
one motive: cater to the hollow
Facts of the Case
When Tool burst onto the scene and released their video for "Sober," it freaked me out, but intrigued me at the same time. Undertow rocked me through freshman year in college. Even so, I never fully embraced Tool. The band formed at just the right time to usher in a wave of dark, heavy, introspective rock, and I appreciate them for the trend they set. Nonetheless, I find later bands in the same genre superior.
One of the successors is A Perfect Circle, which coincidentally shares band members with Tool. Maynard is perhaps the strongest identity associated with Tool, and his presence tends to overshadow the rest of A Perfect Circle. That's not fair, because A Perfect Circle is its own entity. Yet I found myself hoping that A Perfect Circle (APC for short) would deliver on Tool's promise with a shade more approachability, cohesion, and spark. In some ways they did just that, but despite my best efforts I have been unable to fully embrace this band either. I gave A Perfect Circle: aMOTION a spin in hopes that this DVD-CD combo would blow away my reticence toward this band.
A Perfect Circle: aMOTION is a quirky mélange of stray material collected into one release. It comes with two discs, a CD and a DVD.
The CD provides a smattering of APC remixes. Let's just say I am not a fan of remixes. They are annoying because they highlight the boring parts of the song while screwing up the hooks. That said, the remixes present on this CD are not too shabby. Though I'm not intimately familiar with the original versions of the songs, the remixes sound fluid and seamless. However, most of these remixes are available elsewhere, which greatly diminishes the value of this collection.
The standout song on this CD happens to have been previously unreleased, which is good for those who are planning to purchase the set. Paz Lenchantin, either current or former APC bassist depending on who you ask (she's the one who does the cool-ass hair-tying trick in the "Judith" video), performs a remake of "The Hollow." This song was so good that I'll be looking up more of Paz Lenchantin's work, even if I never listen to another APC song again.
The DVD contains all of the APC videos to date, both those that have aired and those that have not. The bulk of the DVD is previously released videos. Most of the new stuff falls into two groups: Fan-produced videos for "Blue" and a handful of remixed Bikini Bandits videos. There is an unedited version of the "Judith" video, but for the life of me I cannot see what was so dire that it needed editing. There is also a live version of "The Noose" that will have fans clamoring for an APC live DVD.
A couple of standouts shine in this DVD, which I will get to in a moment, but the whole sends a tremulous, unfocused message. In short, I was not particularly impressed with this collection. Few of the videos rose above mediocrity. Fan-produced videos aside, APC videos seem to fall into three camps: Haunting, grotesque, psychologically disturbing imagery; militant, subversive anti-propaganda that rails against complacency and commercialism; and finally, marketing tie-ins to one of the most blatantly commercial, mindless media-saturation campaigns in recent memory. I left this DVD collection knowing less about APC than I did when I started.
The commercial media onslaught I'm referring to is, of course, the infamous Bikini Bandits franchise. When I reviewed Bikini Bandits: Briefs, Shorts, and Panties, I found it amusing, moderately titillating, and highly commercial. Commercials for G-Mart merchandise, promotional talks involving Maynard and the Bikini Bandits producers, and other marketing material permeated Bikini Bandits: Briefs, Shorts, and Panties in such a seamless way that you couldn't tell where Bikini Bandits stopped and the commercials for Bikini Bandits began. All that aside, Bikini Bandits is still a fun reworking of exploitation cinema, and it is cool of Maynard and company to loosen up and join in the media riot.
The problem I have with these videos on A Perfect Circle: aMOTION is that they do little to introduce the Bikini Bandits concept, and instead coast through on direct clips of the shorts. Aside from the songs there isn't much of APC in these videos. To add insult to injury, the Bikini Bandits videos are censored with bright yellow smiley faces that obscure middle fingers, butt cleavage, and other offensive body parts. This is inexplicable for several reasons. This very same DVD contains full frontal nudity, which is much more explicit than anything in Bikini Bandits. The smiley faces were presumably added after the fact, and should therefore be easy to remove. Finally, Flash-based subtitles pop up that tell us what the characters are saying, and they contain words like the F-bomb and the four-letter word for woman that ends in U-N-T. (No, it isn't Aunt.) The best I can determine from the visual evidence is that the Bikini Bandits shorts were produced, APC took clips from them to make the videos, those clips were censored with smiley faces, and then someone went back to the censored versions and spiced them up with raunchy subtitles. I could be completely wrong, but that's how it looks.
The fan-produced videos are a neat addition, but I grew tired of hearing "Blue" four times in a row, which unnecessarily damages my impression of the last two "Blue" videos.
The anti-propaganda propaganda front has videos for APC's cover of "Imagine" and "Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums." The former is an involving juxtaposition of Lennon's anti-establishment lyrics, APC's heavy vibe, gruesome images from the news and the war in Iraq, and a tranquil APC stock ticker/propaganda banner at the bottom. This video delivered a clear message, albeit in a heavy-handed format that doesn't suggest rewatchability. Equally heavy-handed is the "Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums" video, which is rendered in crude Flash animation. It is the more compelling of the two videos, containing a cohesive stream of anti-Bush, anti-war, anti-complacency imagery.
The crown jewel of the "freakish" category, and the video I enjoyed the most in the collection, is "Weak and Powerless." It evokes the vibe of "Sober" through stop motion and other disorienting effects. The video contains the aforementioned full frontal nudity, featuring a disturbing young woman crawling around on the forest floor like a lizard. She grabs various reptiles and throws them into a deep hole, with flesh-eating beetles crawling around. I won't ruin your experience with my own interpretation; suffice it to say that "Weak and Powerless" contains powerful imagery. The frontal nudity doesn't hurt. It clearly establishes that the video is serious and has mature, adult-oriented themes. We're not talking eroticized nudity; it is a stark effect of feral humanity that sets us on edge.
Maynard, and occasionally Billy, complement the videos with comments about the subtext and themes. Maynard is a polished speaker, and he will probably give you something worthwhile to chew on about the videos. Billy is more brass tacks, and his comments provide refreshing ballast to Maynard's philosophical underpinnings. The other main extra is a photo gallery, which is not much different from any other photo gallery I've seen.
There is some dirt on a few of the prints, but the style of the videos is intentionally dirty, which hides the occasional video artifact. There are different aspect ratios and styles to the video. The worst offenders in video quality are, unsurprisingly, the Bikini Bandits–based videos, where compression artifacts, poor contrast, and other bugaboos manifest. The rest of the videos are relatively detailed and free of noticeable flaws. The sound quality is clear and powerful, perhaps a bit bass heavy, but nothing seems out of whack.
When considered in toto, A Perfect Circle: aMOTION is a mishmash that doesn't cohesively represent A Perfect Circle. The CD is mostly formerly released remixes, the DVD is mostly formerly released videos, some of which are censored. Extras supplement the previously released videos to add value, but I wouldn't call this collection a must-have APC release. In comparison to other complete video collections I've reviewed lately, such as Awake: The Best of Live (Deluxe Version CD/DVD) and Fear Factory: Bite the Hand That Bleeds and Related Archetypal Imagery, A Perfect Circle: aMOTION provides less bang for the buck. I suggest instead that you buy the "Hollow (Constantly Consuming Remix)" MP3 online and save twenty bucks.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Virgin Records
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