In a bid to keep abreast of cutting edge technology, RareNoiseRecords has embraced the brave new world of the 3D60™ sound experience. The label's first release to utilize the revolutionary system, which creates a surround-sound mix with the added dimension of the top in the listener's headphones, is the two-album set Agemo by Bob Belden's group Animation. Essentially a radical recasting of the six tracks from Animation's 2010 RareNoise debut, Asiento (a document of a 2006 Animation performance at New York's Merkin Hall), Agemo offers listeners a whole new perspective on the band's interpretation of Miles Davis' 1970 fusion landmark, Bitches Brew. This startling new take on Asiento brings listeners on stage, as it were, with the sounds of saxophonist Belden, trumpeter Tim Hagans, keyboardist Scott Kinsey, bassist Matt Garrison, turntablist DJ Logic and drummer Guy Licata swirling around them on renditions of "Pharoah's Dance," "Spanish Key," "John McLaughlin," "Sanctuary," "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down" and the title track of Miles' seminal work.
The title Agemo comes from a deity in the pantheon of Santeria - embodying the essence of change and therefore, represented as a Chameleon. Fittingly, the second album of Agemo showcases the creative re-imaginings of renowned remix artists Fanu, Youth, Gaudi, Joe Claussell, DJ Logic and Bill Laswell as they reconstruct and reinterpret the original material from Animation's Asiento (itself an interpretation of Miles Davis' Bitches Brew), to extract the essence of what Bitches Brew means to them - from dub to funk to breakbeats to dancefloor and R&B. Says Belden of the two new RareNoise releases, "They're both basically remixes but they're two different aesthetics. One is remixing the presentation, the other is remixing the form."
The exclusive and innovative 3D60™ mixing process utilized on Agemo was developed jointly by The Jam's sound engineer and live concert mixer Mike Brady, musician and multimedia producer Ian Thompson and internationally renowned music producer and remix artist Youth. It focuses on both increasing the dynamic range of the music and providing a fully immersive, three-dimensional 360-degree headphone listening experience. With sounds coming from all around the listener -- in front, behind, at different heights and even from overhead or below - the 3D60™ system is truly a brand new frontier in music listening. And it is fully compatible with all audio playback formats. All you need is any pair of stereo headphones. (The process was previously utilized on 2010's Metallic Spheres, a collaboration between ambient house pioneers The Orb and Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour).
Says Belden of the 3D60™ system: "Portable devices, whether they are iPods, iPads, cellphones, MP3 players or laptop computers, are the most used devices for listening to music. So this is a way to create an aural experience that used to require an extensive home theater system and speakers. This replaces five speakers in your head. It's a very unique, experimental concept. It's basically mixing a live concert in a kind of holographic environment. So what you get is a wider experience aurally. It's taking the listening experience to another level."
"It was an honor for us to collaborate with such a great lineup reworking some of the 20th century's finest music," says Brady. "Asiento gave us excellent material to work with, and we think we've done it justice by bringing out the depth and energy to the live recording." And audiophiles take note: the first disc of Agemo will also be released as 24bit/96Khz FLAC.
Brady provides some background on his interest in surround sound and his development of the revolutionary 3D60™ system: "My earliest surround experience was seeing Pink Floyd in concert," Brady recalls. "They were experimenting at an Essex University gig with one of the first Quad PA systems, which was really used for key effects; it didn't create a full listening ambience, just gave the chance to pan single sounds dramatically round the gig space. But that had impact at the time and was a window on future ideas for presenting sound. So after finding myself in studios and working in TV sound, and then mixing music and engineering sound in large stadiums and halls -- with all the problems of unwanted echo ambience those gigs can present -- I moved away into directing music promos for some time, which bridged my music and TV backgrounds. But I've kept in touch with sound and playing music, and I returned to that world directly again with the 3D60™ concept and process coming into being just over a year ago, when I founded the company with media lecturer and musician Ian Thompson (from the Mike Flowers Pops band) and renowned international music producer Youth."
Brady adds that his 3D60™ system was meant to appeal specifically to the iPod generation. "We wanted to develop a fully immersive sound experience specifically designed for headphones, prompted by the big uptake in headphone use, whether it's people hearing music on iPods, on their computers or on their mobile phones. We knew about 5.1 sound but it seemed a bit physically cumbersome and limited, and it was never a big hit with music fans. It's a 'virtual' surround system based on front and rear sound source positions only, it needs encoding, and you need to buy extra speakers and amps just to get a kind of imprecise 'surround' sound effect. And that's fixed into your home room and limited to a band of 'horizontal only' sound - it's just not the 'listen anywhere' fully immersive experience that we wanted and that 3D60™ system is. We create surround ambiences at source, in truly three dimensions, that go well beyond stereo and 5.1. So 3D60 sounds can be placed absolutely anywhere around you -- in front of you, coming from behind, above, from right over your head - and they can move around through all these dimensions. We aim to provide a fuller and more exciting sound by putting the listener at the centre of the music with our 360-degree immersive listening experience. Hence the name."
Belden, who is understandably excited about this new technology in sound, also credits RareNoiseRecords' forward-thinking founders with providing the impetus for the U.K.-based label to push the envelope in the marketplace. "This 3D60™ system is totally unique. Nobody does this. For one thing, there's nothing like RareNoiseRecords in the business. They are interested in experimenting with sound and bringing the 'wow' back to the music so that we can compete with other forms of entertainment. So what we're really trying to do is to make records that are presented uniquely."
- Reconstruction and Transformation