Remember the Future
(Dream Nebula / Eclectic Discs)

NEKTAR: Remember the Future (Dream Nebula / Eclectic Discs) Nektar fans, take note: this is the moment you've been waiting for. At long last, the band's reigning moment--Remember the Future--has just been released on SACD (along with Journey to the Centre of the Eye, A Tab in the Ocean, and Recycled - the latter two are not on SACD). I know what you're thinking… They released the quad version of RTF years ago and it sounded like half the music was missing. This time, however, with the band's full cooperation--RTF is now available in true 5.1 surround sound and the results are nothing less than spectacular.

Since this is a hybrid disc, it's playable on regular CD players as well. As a special incentive to those who don't yet have an SACD player, the CD layer includes three bonus tracks. The first, "Remember the Future (Made in Germany edit)" is a 9:51 version of the suite, formerly available only on a German compilation album. The other two tracks, "Lonely Roads" and "Let it Grow" are single edits, originally sent to radio stations. These tracks were on the 2002 remaster. The 'Made in Germany' edit is making its first appearance on CD.

Sonically, the new CD version of RTF is basically the same as the 2002 reissue. Both sound great, but the output level on the new one is slightly lower. Where the disc really shines is on the SACD layer. No matter how many times you've heard this album, nothing will prepare you for the way it sounds in surround. It's literally like hearing it for the first time. One thing that longtime fans of the album will notice is that the individual parts of the suite are no longer mentioned. It's simply called Part I & Part II. For the sake of this review, however, I'll refer to the individual parts by name.

The first time you listen to the SACD version, it will sound different. The first thing you'll notice is the lack of bass. However, this is easily remedied by simply turning up the volume on your subwoofer. The SACD format makes full use of the technology, separating the vocals and instrumentation perfectly, without overdoing it. Most of the lead guitars are anchored in the left channels, while the keyboards are mainly on the right. The drums are in the front channels, with some delay to the rears. The bass and lead vocals are mainly in the fronts.

"Wheel of Time" benefits greatly from the vocal delay in the rear speakers, adding a nice ambiance to the song. The vocals on the title track also make use of the multiple channels, especially on the harmonies. "Questions and Answers" sounds slightly different, but allows the listener to easily distinguish each vocal part. "Tomorrow Never Comes" will blow you away when you hear how clear it sounds now. The airiness around the cymbals will take your breath away, and the harmonies are mixed perfectly. Mo Moore's bass work on "Recognition" is noticeably cleaner, and the formerly muddy mess on "Let it Grow" is now as clear as a bell--especially the drums. The compression is gone, restoring the album's full dynamic range. It's great to finally hear the album the way the band intended.

The new liner notes are informative and insightful, and there are loads of new photos. My only real complaint (and it's a small one) is that the bonus tracks aren't available on the SACD layer. Even if you already have multiple copies of Remember the Future in any format--if you're a Nektar fan, this is an essential addition to your collection.

© 2004 Steve Marshall
Purchase this CD from Eclectic Discs