Tool: Salival

Tool: Salival (2000)

Cast: Tool... and puppets

Like most of you, I have my wish list of films that I would like to see released on DVD (such as ’Open Your Eyes’, ’Strange Brew’, and ’PCU’), but there are also several music-video compilations that I’ve always wanted to see in a digital format. Well, my prayers have finally been answered, as the band Tool has released their videos on a new DVD compilation. The DVD is part of a limited-edition set called ’Salival’, which comes packaged with a CD containing 70-minutes of music and a 56-page booklet. As there is no numbering on the package, I’m assuming that ’Limited Edition’ is used here in the ’Saving Private Ryan’ sense and not in the Anchor Bay numbered tins sense.

There are four videos to be found on the DVD. They are for the songs, ’Sober’, ’Prison Sex’, ’Stink Fist’ and ’AEnema’. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Tool’s videos, let me throw out some adjectives to describe them — weird; disturbing; dark; did I mention weird? Unlike your average MTV fare (as if MTV actually shows videos anymore!), the videos from Tool don’t feature the band themselves (although they’re glimpsed in ’Sober’), but rather other-worldly creatures, often played by puppets. Fans of stop-motion animation should simply eat-up this set, as each of the videos features some sort of animation, with ’Sober’ and ’Prison Sex’ being completely animated. Each video uses this animation or live-action to create a narrative that can be viewed as an individual story, or as something that mirrors the song’s lyrics. (Although, it can be argued that the video for ’Prison Sex’, a song which deals with sexual abuse, is a very clever metaphor for this abuse.) The images presented in these videos are bizarre and disturbing, and will leave a mark on the viewer long after the video has ended. The drawback to this set is that there aren’t adequate credits for the videos, either on the DVD or in the booklet. I would like more information on the animators and filmmakers who worked on these videos. Just look at the amount of dedication that went into the animation on ’Sober’. I mean, come on, stop-motion animation is difficult enough, but doing a series of shots where the camera goes in and out of focus (purposely), must be nearly impossible. (Also, ’Sober’ has the feel of a longer piece which Tool decided to set their music to. I would have liked to have learned more about that.)

The four videos are presented in a full-frame format, which isn’t surprising as they were initially intended for television broadcast. The images on the videos are very clear, showing no grain or distortion worth mentioning. While the opening of ’Sober’ does appear a bit dark, the clarity of the videos is superb. All four vides are practically devoid of color, so there are no bright blues or reds to mention. However, the blacks and grays look very good, with the dark blacks adding a true feeling of depth to the image. There is no interference from noise or artifacting on the image either. The audio on the ’Salival’ DVD is a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. While the viewer is free to go with the Dolby 2-channel soundtrack, I recommend the 5.1 track. The sound is very rich and offers a wide dynamic range, as well as a very smooth and undistorted bass. The trademark of Tool is the vocals of Maynard James Keenan and they come through very well on this soundtrack. While the visual of Tool’s videos are what make this package worth buying, the impressive audio makes the set all the more appealing.

There are no true ’extras’ on the DVD to speak of. As Tool have always been advocates of hidden music tracks, it’s probably not surprising to report that there is a hidden video on the DVD. Also, there is one seemingly useless menu screen which has an audio easter egg, so be on your toes for that one. Speaking of the menus, the menus on ’Salival’ are not your traditional user-friendly DVD menus, so I hope that you’re familiar with your player’s remote control functions before you embark on this journey. And while I realize that this isn’t a music review website, I would like to offer my opinion on the rest of the ’Salival’ package. The CD is an overwhelming disappointment, as it displays Tool at there most mellow and boring. Each of their albums has those ’lull’ songs and they decided to put live versions of those songs on this CD. The three studio tracks, including a cover of Led Zeppelin’s ’No Quarter’ are equally unimpressive, although ’LAMC’ does show that the usually dour Tool does have a sense of humor. Ironically, the best song on the CD is the hidden track. And I must say, having seen Tool live (as well as Maynard’s other band, A Perfect Circle), the live material fails to capture the power of his voice in concert. The booklet included with the set is made of photographs from the band’s last tour and still images from the videos. As for the box itself, it’s pretty, but it’s also big, so I don’t know where I’m going to put the thing. To summarize my feelings about ’Salival’, I’ll probably never listen to the CD again, but I’m sure that I’ll often find myself watching the videos on the DVD with a sense of awe and bewilderment.