John Gorka The Gypsy Life (2007)

DVD Video plus Audio DualDisc
Studio: AIX Records Video: 16:9 widescreen color
Audio: DTS 5.1, DD 5.1, PCM Stereo, DVD-Audio
Extras: Interviews, Bios, Photo Galleries, Discography, Featurette,

.............. Song Intros, Web link

Length: 210 minutes
Rating: *****

Jul 15, 2008

This is my third experience with AIX, and as they say, the third time is definitely the charm!

Years ago, during that period when disco was in its death throes, rock was stale, and punk and new wave were often too “out there,” I was in a record store and an album cover caught my attention. It was “December” by George Winston, and I was so impressed with the beautiful winter scene on the cover, I bought it unheard with no knowledge of who George Winston or Windham Hill Records was. Needless to say, I loved the album, and over the next few years I reveled in amazingly good discs by the likes of Will Ackerman, Liz Story, Michael Hedges and the group Shadowfax. Of course, times change, and Windham Hill decided to try and expand beyond their instrumental base and start including more folk and vocal-oriented music, and I received a sampler that included a couple of songs by this guy named John Gorka. Now, I really liked my new age music just the way it was, and I bristled at the thought (and sounds) of guys like John Gorka singing and invading my precious instrumental space. The real clincher for me was when the late, great Michael Hedges started (trying) to sing on his albums, and it was way more than I could take. The salad days of Windham Hill were over, and things have never been quite the same.

So along an incredibly convoluted path comes this new DVD/DualDisc combo pack featuring, of all people, John Gorka, and you know, he’s just a regular guy from New Jersey who sings songs about life and love and the human condition. This new package from AIX Records is the real deal, and features not only a really good video transfer of the concert event, but also a DualDisc that features both a 24/96 PCM Stereo version (for your capable DVD player) and a DVD-Audio version of the songs, as well as a standard Red Book CD layer. The DVD video disc contains multiple audio tracks; there’s a PCM Stereo track, and also DTS 5.1 and DD 5.1 tracks that offer the listener the surround sound option of either a stage or audience perspective. The concert was recorded in a hall without an audience to help preserve the intimacy of the recordings. The DVD video disc is double-sided, with one side called the “linear” side, which is more focused on the actual performances; the second side is called the “interactive” side, and it’s more of an exploration of the creative process, with interview segments, etc. that showcase not only the performances, but the performers as well. The video was shot in HD, but of course, this is just a standard DVD, but the video quality is so crisp and clear - I don’t really think it would benefit significantly from Blu-ray treatment.

The set includes an absolute plethora of choices and extras; so much so, you could spend an extensive amount of time and only experience a fraction of this excellent package. This is my third experience with AIX, and as they say, the third time is definitely the charm! Very highly recommended! --

Tom Gibbs
Copyright 2008 Audiophile Audition