June 23, 2010

After numerous delays, the Cure remasters program finally picks up again with the long awaited Disintegration, now 21 years old.  Nearly four years since the last remaster, I thought we would never see this, especially since at one point last year it sounded as if Rhino was closing up shop, putting the rest of the Cure remasters on hold indefinitely.

The original Disintegration on CD contained 2 bonus tracks for a total duration of 72 minutes.  The original single LP, sans the last 2 songs includes 58:24 worth of music- too much to squeeze onto 2 sides, which possibly put a dent in the sound quality.  Twenty-one years later, this re-issue restores the final two tracks and gives the grooves some room to breathe.

While the Deluxe CD edition compliles 3 discs: the full album remastered, a disc of demos and live material, and the remixed-to-be-more-complete live show Entreat originally released in 1990 (and 20 page booklet), NONE of that is as excellent as finally getting this most brilliant album in complete form spread over 4 sides of heavy vinyl.  I had hoped the deluxe CD edition would contain a bonus disc of the 12" versions and b-sides, and was disappointed when the details of included bonus material was announced- until I read there would also be a double vinyl edition.

The remastered sound of the CD is not receiving the best grades on message boards I frequent, or review sites like pitchfork.com- who beautifully describe the original.  Commentary on amazon is quite different between audiophiles and the average music consumer. Thankfully, I'm no audiophile and the LPs sound fantastic to me- a bit brighter than the original CD but nothing so noticeably different through my meager system.

The first 4 Cure deluxe editions (Three Imaginary Boys in '04, Faith, Seventeen Seconds, Pornography in '05) were mastered by Chris Blair at Abbey Road Studios, the second round (The Top, Head On The Door, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me & The Glove's Blue Sunshine in '06) were mastered by Gary Moore at Universal Studios. RS remastered Disintegration himself in his home studio.

According to the Cure website, other remasters coming in 2010 are Mixed Up '2', a live @the BBC box, and both In Orange and Show on DVD. I hope the Mixed Up remaster is the original '91 compilation as well as a 2nd edition- and not JUST a second edition that leaves the original skipped (like the Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me re-issue vinyl- ALL the other remasters so far have seen vinyl re-issues except Kiss Me).  Visit the Cure online.

Typical of reissues, the cover art is not the best reproduction, but not the worst either. It's a bit blurry and much darker, missing the blue tones the original had (shot with the original CD cover left). Inside the gatefold is a great band photo, the inner sleeves are printed with new and old credits, lyrics on the flips. 
Further Disintegration-era bonus material can be downloaded  from the Disintegration site.
For Pitchfork.com, Nitsuh Abebe writes: "The album has a reputation as some huge, dark, crushingly depressive experience. It's not entirely unearned. If you want to be crushingly depressed with Disintegration, or frustrated, or self-loathing, it'll embrace you right back. But it'll embrace other things, too. A whole lot of this album's appeal is that it's comforting, practically womb-like- big, warm, slow, full of beauty and melody and even joy. The trick, I think, is how well it serves as a soundtrack to that feeling that everything around you is meaningful, whether it's beautiful or horrible or sublime: This is an album for capital-R Romantics, not sulkers. It's muscular (like on the title track), wistful ("Pictures of You"), ghostly ("Closedown"), seething ("Fascination Street"), and yeah, morose, but what's striking is how each of those qualities can reach really, really far into your gut. It's not a record for the dead-inside: Get far enough into this album, and I will almost guarantee you will feel some shit."

Read Nitsuh Abebe's complete review.

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