Ian Cooke: The Fall I Fell (DVD) (2007)

Bio (from iancookemusic.com):
Singer, songwriter, cellist, pianist – Ian Cooke has appeared in SPIN magazine, Finished #1 in the Denver Post Music Poll in 2009, and has been voted Best Avant-Pop for 3 years by Westword Magazine. He also plays cello on Crooked Fingers’ album Forfeit/Fortune and his two songs appeared alongside Billy Bragg, Owen Pallett, and M Ward on ‘Versions of Joanna’ – a Joanna Newsom covers-album.
He has toured in the US and Australia playing with: The Dresden Dolls, Crooked Fingers, Built to Spill, The Decemberists, The Flaming Lips (Monolith Festival), Blonde Redhead, Devotchka, Rasputina, Wovenhand, Pedro the Lion and many more.
Cooke’s 2009 album, ‘The Fall I Fell,’ has sold out of two pressings and has been re-pressed with a DVD with solo live versions of songs, videos, a 5.1 surround mix of the album, etc.
His new album ‘Fortitude’ was released 11/11/11 and Cooke will be touring this winter and all of next year, booked by the Vinefield Agency.

Musicians:
Ian Cooke (songwriting, vocals, cello, piano, percussion, package design), Ian O (drum programming on tracks 10 & 11, guitar on tracks 3 & 7), Justin Ferreira (drums on tracks 4,6,7, & 8), Sean Merrell (drums on tracks 1 & 12), Jme (everything but vocals & strings on track 4), Kelly O’Dea (violin on track 4), Whit Sibley (bass, muse)

So, for you that actually follow this blog, the above may seem very familiar.  Yes, I have already reviewed Ian Cooke’s THE FALL I FELL (here).  However, the physical copy of that release also comes with a DVD, which is the subject of today’s TFIF review.  As you may remember, I LOVE this album.  If someone ever asked me to put on the best “pop” music I could, well first off I’d give them a weird look for asking for pop music, then I would put in TFIF.  It is a shining example that pop music, easy to listen to music about love and loss, can actually be GOOD music.  However, you can go back and read that other review if you’re not already familiar with TFIF.

Ian Cooke, solo

The DVD for TFIF is made up of several parts, and I am going to touch on each through this review.  It includes the entire TFIF album in surround sound (your choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS) with accompanying lyrics and images posted on screen, a selection of live tracks, The Story – a bit of a “making of” for TFIF – two videos (for “Vasoon” and “Kursk”), and some additional bonus items.

First off, the album, in 5.1 Surround Sound as mixed by Bob Ferbrache, is just amazing.  I love TFIF through my iPod earbuds, and I love TFIF played through a CD player, but good goddamn, this albums sounds incredible when played through surround sound.  Ferbrache’s mix makes the album come to life: bits and pieces of the songs swirl around the background while Cooke’s voice takes the forefront, and the sound envelops the listener.  Trippy bits, like the intro to “Flood,” sound especially trippy, and the parts that rocks, like the beginning of “The Rot,” rock even harder.  This especially fine take on the music is perfectly accented by the visuals.  The lyrics flow on the screen to match Cooke’s delivery, and while it is not hard to understand his voice, the lyrics make more sense when you can actually read them while listening to the song; reading them just makes them more concrete, more real, and more meaningful.

Ian Cooke, playing with Uphollow

The live tracks were a nice bit.  Again, mastered in surround sound they are a delight to the ears.  Some of the tracks show Cooke in his solo form, just a man, his cello, and a groovebox, which was what first caught my attention.  I saw a video on YouTube of Cooke’s solo performance of “The Rot” which I now know is actually an excerpt from this DVD; I was amazed at how amazing his performance was for one man.  Cooke also proves live that not only does he have the musical chops (when you’re playing live with a groovebox, you only get one take to get it right) but he also has the voice.  His voice is just as rich, just as kind to the ears live as it is on his studio releases.  This man is über talented, and the live videos on this DVD only make me think that even more so.

The making of TFIF was very informative and entertaining to someone like me that really wants to get inside an artist’s head and understand where they are coming from.  I wish I had watched it before reviewing the CD, because it really explains a lot about TFIF.  It goes into how Cooke got involved in the Denver music scene, talks a bit about his passion for origami (which is evident through the packaging of the physical album), where the music videos came from, and more.

The origami cover to TFIF, unfolded

The videos were a nice touch as well.  “Vasoon,” directed by Zach Putnam, was a fun exercise in low-budget filmmaking, in which a little planning goes a long way.  The video is made up of shots of Cooke designing an origami cello, folding a life-size version of the paper instrument, and then “playing” it.  It was a great example of how you can make a really interesting visual piece with no money when you take the time to plan out what you are going to make.  Vincent Comparetto’s video for “Kursk” was more intricate; a full set was built to imitate the inside of a Russian submarine (the subject of the song is the sinking of the Kursk submarine in August of 2000), and children were hired to play the sailors.  This video also included some simple but effective animation and various video effects throughout.  While this was by no means a “big budget” video – I’m sure it’s budget was less than the craft services budget of most things seen on MTV – there was much more put into this video than “Vasoon;” while different, both were enjoyable in their own ways.

Finally there are some “Bonus Features” that include the making of the videos and also Cooke talking about “idea storage,” a bit more into how he creates his music.  Interesting information for those people that want to know as much as they can about this album and this artist.

Ian and his origami cello, from the Vasoon video

Overall, I just can’t say enough about how much I dig TFIF, and the addition of begin able to enjoy the entire album in exquisitely mixed surround sound can only elevate my adoration of this release.  The live components serve to show just how truly talented Cooke is, the videos are a great exercise in low-budget filmmaking, and the other bits in-between are just icing on the cake.  To anyone that is thinking of purchasing just the digital download of TFIF, I would say that you are doing yourself a great disservice; Cooke’s bandcamp page only charges $3 more to receive the full package: the CD, the DVD, and the incredibly original origami packaging to hold it all.  Don’t cheap out, spend the extra $3, you won’t be disappointed… I wasn’t.

Overall 9.5 / 10

TFIF for sale: http://iancooke.bandcamp.com/album/the-fall-i-fell

TFIF site: http://www.iancookemusic.com/

The video for “The Rot” as mentioned above:

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