Multimedia Diva: Nettwerk Record's Sarah
by Alan Zisman
(c) 1995. First
published in Our Computer Player, June 1995
Sarah McLachlin: The
Box 330- 1755 Robson Street
Vancouver, BC V6G 3B7
tel (604) 654-2929
fax (604) 654-1993
A couple of
issues ago, we took a look at "Far
Out", by local (Vancouver) recording artists, Ginger. We noted that
Records, Vancouver-based alternative music label, had pledged to
release all their future output simultaneously as
standard audio CDs and as multimedia CD-ROMs.
We especially applauded their desire to try and
distribute the multimedia efforts into record stores, and to
price them as close to the standard audio CDs as possible, rather
then at the $60+ of the multimedia releases of
like Peter Gabriel or the former Prince.
The second multimedia release features perhaps
Nettwerk's best-known performer, Halifax-born Vancouver resident
Sarah, as she's known to her fans, has become internationally
known-- with a huge audience largely made up of sensitive young women.
(My 13 year old daughter and a friend, (who fit
that description-- right, Kate?) went to see her last
spring at Vancouver's Orpheum).
Like last fall's multimedia release by Ginger, 'The
Freedom Sessions' combines all the music on the audio CD with
lyrics, music videos, pictures, and random documentary clips, playable
on both Macs and Windows PCs. While the
earlier release sometimes worked only awkwardly on PCs, this
one is much smoother... perhaps due to the upgrade to
QuickTime ver 2, both for Mac and Windows. (Yes, the disk will
install all required QuickTime player files onto your computer).
Sarah's fans will be pleased with the range of
videos included... not just music videos from this release,
but snippets of songs and videos from her other releases,
along with a complete discography.
As in the Ginger production, this one features a
'click on anything' interface... virtually everything in the
start-up is a live link to a multimedia object. Some clicks get
and videos from Sarah's previous releases, some get photos with voice
talking about touring, producing this album, the band, one gets photos
and video from a trip to Thailand and Cambodia on behalf of the
The videos are improved from the postage-stamp size
you may have
become accustomed to; while still not fullscreen (maybe 240 x 180
they played quite smoothly on my double-speed cd-rom.
But as in the former release, please read the fine
print on the cover before playing it on your home stereo. For
reasons beyond Nettwerk's control, the audio tracks begin on
Track 2-- Track 1 holds the multimedia. Trying to play it on
your stereo CD player will sound like connecting to a fax
machine with your phone, but louder!
The powers-that-be are reportedly working on
reworking the CD standards, to enable cd-audio and multimedia to be
combined in a less awkward way, but in the mean time, it's a
quirk we'll have to put up with.
How about the music? "The Freedom Sessions" are
mostly alternate takes of songs released on Sarah's last CD--
" Falling Towards Ecstasy", in looser, more acoustic
versions... generally recorded prior to the more
formal studio sound of the earlier release. It's nice to have this
take on songs that have become familiar to her fans (and to me through
repeated listening with Kate in the car), but
this is a bit of a minor release-- lacking the power of a
fresh new collection.
Still, she has a great, self-confident voice, and
the addition of multimedia at a bargain price should make
this a must-have for any of Sarah McLachlin's fans who have
access to a multimedia computer.
I hope that Nettwerk continues with its efforts to
merge multimedia and pop music... if you're a fan of any of
their groups, you can keep in touch via their BBS
their World Wide Web page (http://www.nettwerk.com/).
2003 note: This 1995
review is consistently one of the most-accessed of the 800+ articles on
my website, a tribute to Sarah McLachlin's dedicated fan base. Despite
having written this review, I'm not an expert on Sarah, or her
recording career. Please don't email me hoping for answers to your
questions about her. But you can
purchase a copy of The Freedom
Sessions by clicking on the link below: