DVD Review – Arrival: Behind the Glass
Russ Miller, studio drummer, inventor of drumming gadgets, and former drummer-talk interviewee has entered the world of instructional DVDs with his offering Arrival: Behind the Glass. Arrival is the name of the album that he recently released and Arrival: Behind the Glass is a tour of what it was like recording with tons and tons of famous and well respected drummers. Oh, right. I didn’t mention the all star cast, did I? This is definitely an album for drummers incase you hadn’t guessed. Every other track on the album is a rhythmic conversation (a.k.a drum duet) with some incredible drummer. Among those included in the project were: Steve Smith, Jeff Hamilton, Zoro, Akira Jimbo, and Johnny Rabb.
From what I gather the idea was to use the album as a basis for a general instructional DVD, not unlike Voices In My Head. In addition to using the album tracks as a spring board for lessons, Russ also called on listeners of his album to send him questions about the album and what he played on what track. Almost all of the people who wrote in were asking about licks he did and how to perform them so you do get a good deal of cool licks broken down for you in this DVD so never fear about that. Also with the DVD you get two audio disks containing the album Arrival and you also get a play along version of the whole album so you can jam to the tunes.
I had really really high hopes for this DVD, and unfortunately it didn’t deliver on my expectations. The concepts and techniques section of the video is the meat of the video where he goes over the concepts and techniques he uses as a studio drummer and on this record in particular. Lots of the stuff Russ covered was very good, not that it hadn’t been covered in other but it was a good offering to the drumming public. The problem is that the thing was simply too short and too guided by the questions from fans. Most of the questions from the fans were about licks which was fine but it got to the point where I felt it took up too much time from the video. I get the fact that the point was to answer questions from the fans the sections where Russ was just straight up teaching were much better. Which is why I think this video was too short. After playing with all these great artists there is no way Russ didn’t glean more information that he could have shared with us if he would have either cut the questions or lengthen the video. I will say they did a great job with the PDFs though, Props for that.
Produced by Hudson Limited this video isn’t as well put together as some of the regular Hudson Music videos, but that is to be expected. For those of you who don’t know Hudson Limited is the independent branch of Hudson Music meaning it’s a more in the hands of the artist and whatever team of film makers he can put together for the project. This can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on your point of view and the given situation. In this particular case it didn’t work out as good as I would have hoped. The menu system can be a pain to navigate because the indicator that they chose to show you what you are about to select is to turn the wording dark purple, when the words are already dark blue. This can make it almost impossible to accurately navigate the menu because you’ll keep wondering what in the heck you are about to select. It’s definitely not as polished and clean as some of the other Hudson stuff. In fact at some points it looks like they were using a really high end web cam to film. For an amateur video this would have been exceptional but for something coming with the Hudson name on it, it’s a bit shoddy looking. If the content were exceptional then this would be a minor nit pick but because the content isn’t winning me over either it irks me just that much more.
The DVD comes with an album and a play along version of the same album, A good look at the making of the album and video, a photo gallery (boo) and a clip of Richie Gahate Garcia playing for the recording of the album. For a Hudson Limited DVD this is actually above average. The stuff from the limited section of Hudson is usually thin on the extras.
All in all I feel like I paid a little too much for this DVD. I was disappointed especially because I really expected something awesome out of Russ. If Russ ever gives it another shot I’ll be more then happy to see what he comes up with but for me this one just doesn’t cut it.