The latest Immersion and Discovery box sets reveal just how much more Floyd there is to go around. Having spent the last week listening to more Pink Floyd than usual over the last few years, the verdict on both the Immersion and Discovery box sets is indeed mixed – and these are two distinctly different animals.
Both sets have been remastered by James Guthrie (co-producer of The Wall) who had partial mastering credits on Pink Floyd’s last box set entitled Oh By The Way, released in 2007. If that weren’t confusing enough, part of the catalogue was remastered in 1992 for the Shine On box set, with some cursory bonus tracks. Not having a Shine On set at my disposal, the discs in the Discovery box were compared to OBTW and found to be nearly identical, though “new mastering” is claimed.
Those possessing the early late 80’s vintage CD’s will be in for a treat, these discs sound better in every way, the music presents itself across a much bigger soundstage in all three dimensions and everything sounds so much more analogue.
The Immersion version of Dark Side of the Moon is another story; EMI has included pebbles, posters, stickers and a scarf along with six discs of material. Disc 1 is the remastered version of the DSOM you already know and love. Disc 2 is a live performance of the album from Wembley in 1974. Disc 3 features high and low resolution (448 kb/sec and 640kb/sec) 5.1 surround and 4.0 quadraphonic mixes and the original 1973 stereo mix in 24bit/48khz format. You will either love or hate the surround mix and the quad mix possibly ends up being the more trippy of the two. At the risk of enraging fans and collectors, this reviewer actually loved the sound of the 24/48 stereo mix. For my money, I would have rather had this disc a full blown DVD-a (instead of just a DVD disc with “audio only”) with a 24/192 copy of the master tape. Wait, perhaps another marketing opportunity!
The fourth disc contains live footage from Brighton in 1972, the 2003 DSOM documentary and concert screen films in PCM stereo and 5.1 surround. All of this data is mirrored on Disc 5 in the Blu Ray format and is a substantial step up in video quality than the DVD version. Finally, Disc six is an early Alan Parsons mix of DSOM, which is very interesting and not quite as densely packed with sound as the album we are most familiar with. It’s too early to tell if this is rapidly becoming my favorite because I truly prefer it or just because it is a variation on the theme. This disc also contains bonus tracks with alternate takes and a few live cuts as well.
The sound quality is excellent overall and the packaging first rate. As intriguing as this set is, it is unfortunate that with six discs at our disposal, it would have been nice to see a few more rarities from the vault make an appearance, especially with a title like Immersion.
Of course, if your a maniacal fan or completist collector, you’ll need both of these box sets and keep in mind that there will be an Immersion version of Wish You Were Here and The Wall later on this year, so you aren’t done shopping just yet. -Jeff Dorgay