Tracking Surround: MVI

A Christmas-in-June-and-July Carol: The old DualDisc is as dead as a doornail. This must be distinctly understood, the Warner Music Group seems to be admitting, or nothing wonderful can come of an early gift for us: yet another new format. What will it be - humdinger or humbug?

Well, the format is called MVI, which stands for Music Video Interactive (see It used to be called DVD Album, but that was abandoned - likely because abbreviating it would confuse it with that other DVD-A format, DVD-Audio. Besides, although "MVI" doesn't denote much, the full name does say exactly what this new DVD-based format holds: music (an entire album in 48-kHz, 24-bit stereo), video (such as interviews, "making-of" footage, and of course, videoclips), and interactive content (such as ringtones, downloads, A/V mixing capabilities, and digital files for the album's tracks) - all on a single disc compatible with DVD players and the DVD drives of PCs, Macs, and gaming consoles. And fans of surround sound, take note: The music portion can hold a multichannel mix, although it's unclear how "high-resolution" it may be.

At any rate, the debut title came unheralded in May, offered stereo only, and was a two-disc CD+MVI: Linkin Park's Minutes to Midnight (Warner Bros.). Which, for the 5.1 faithful, was truly disappointing, since the band's DVD-Audio of Reanimation was so killer. But at presstime, things were looking up (and all around) with plans for single-disc, multichannel MVIs of Rush's Snakes & Arrows (Anthem/Atlantic, June 26) and the Flaming Lips' U.F.O.s at the Zoo: The Legendary Concert in Oklahoma City (Warner Bros., July 10), though the main program of the latter is indeed a concert video, not an audio album. Also due July 10 is Donald Fagen's boxed Nightfly Trilogy (Reprise/Rhino), gathering three MVIs of his solo albums: The Nightfly, Kamakiriad, and Morph the Cat, all of which have already been heard on DVD-Audio. The Lips are no strangers to 5.1 either. But the Rush MVI is especially notable because it represents the band's first studio-material foray into surround sound.

Update: The Flaming Lips MVI has been postponed until August 7, and the Donald Fagen box is now "on hold." Meanwhile, for a review of the Rush MVI, click here.

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