Boris Blank - ResonanceRenowned Yello musician Boris Blank’s latest sonic bliss, "Resonance," is a vibrant fusion of ambient, trance, and electro. Comprising twelve tracks originally commissioned for the FortySeven thermal spa near Zurich, designed by the acclaimed architect Mario Botta, this album transcends the boundaries of space and time.

As a founding member of the Swiss cult band Yello, Boris Blank has been a trailblazer in electronic music for over four decades. Now, as a solo artist, he continues to shape global pop culture with his unwavering musical DNA, which has been a source of inspiration for modern acts.

"Resonance" is not just an album; it's an immersive experience. Stefan Bock and Stefan Zaradić of IAN Records leverage the innovative "Spatial Sound Wave" system from the renowned Fraunhofer Institute to craft an elaborate 3D spatial soundscape. These meditative pieces are designed to offer wellness and relaxation, transporting listeners to uncharted ambient realms.

I spoke with Mr. Blank about his latest project, and he shared how the music for Resonance was initially created for the thermal spa. He went on to describe how each room has different features, with the first room as a hot pool in literal darkness with small LED lights spread across the ceiling like the cosmos. The second room has an island where guests can lie and watch a video on the ceiling, while the third room has two stories of winter gardens where guests can chill after spending time in the warm baths. Blank created extended music pieces for each of the rooms that effectively had no beginning nor end seamlessly looping infinitively. Resonance is a modified version of these original pieces, now created with an opening and closing section. These songs focus on themes of water, such as steam, clouds, waterfalls, ice, along with stone and even gravity. Also, Blank has composed three more tracks that are included on the album.

For Blank, the project posed a unique challenge as he delved into undiscovered acoustic territories. He has had a great affinity for expansive spaces, whether it's echoes from the top of a mountain to reverberant places like factory floors and underground garages, he embraces how each holds an acoustic resonance. "Every space has its own unique vibrations, and it appeals to Blank to enter these spheres and make them perceptible through music. He finds that the bigger the space, the more interesting it becomes and his goal for these pieces was to make the spaces as vast and expansive as possible.

Blank works out of both the Yello studio and his home. The Yello studio has a larger setup, and typically he creates the original compositional ideas there, while fine tuning of the sound textures commonly are done in the home studio. Blank builds up to 120 tracks, first creating a stereo mix which he simultaneously envisions in his mind as a three-dimensional mix. Using the stereo mix as the guide, the multi-tracks are then expanded into spatial audio at msm-studios by David Merkl and Stefan Bock. In the simplest terms, the predesignated levels of the various parts in the stereo mix created by Blank are moved about in the object-oriented Spatial Sound Wave (SSW) system. Stefan Bock explains that they needed to use the SSW system to prepare and mix the music for the thermal baths spa due to limitations of the non-standard speaker layouts in the spa. The system needed to be flexible enough to adapt to irregular speaker placements, including across multiple floors. The SSW system is based on wavefield synthesis and allows audio engineers to render to any speaker layout and configuration. However, for the Blu-ray disc and streaming services, Bock noted that they created a Dolby Atmos mix from scratch and that the Auro 3D version is based on the Atmos mix. Still, while SSW has a lot of benefits, it is not a system to create mixes for consumer formats. msm-studios is a certified partner for the SSW system, as well as being certified for Dolby Atmos and Auro 3D.

While the sonics of Resonance convey an analog feel, all the synthesizer parts were created on modern day digital synths. Blank commented that he drifts towards patches that evoke the texture of analog, some of which can go back to his earliest influences, which include Sextant by Herbie Hancock and albums by Pink Floyd. Still, his tastes are eclectic and include classical, jazz, and beyond, each of which has provided inspiration for his own unique style. He describes himself as a mood maker, which is a perfect description for Resonance, as it takes listeners through a variety of spaces using rhythmic grooves down to a somber chill.

Blank noted that he intends to release all future albums in immersive audio, and to that end naturally readers wanted to know if Yello had plans for mixing any of the other earlier studio albums in spatial audio. Blank went on to explain that they are considering this, and their analog 48 track recordings are a lot easier to work with than digital recordings. He noted that there was a lot of effort put into remixing Touch Yello in surround. Blank further described that unlike in the analog realm where the sound is committed to tape, in the digital realm parameters and plugins are not necessarily written, which means they may need to be rebuilt.

Before my final words, I will make it abundantly clear that the Dolby Atmos mix is extraordinary, making use of every nook and cranny and stretching the soundstage beyond the speakers further into the ether. From the crack of thunder that falls deeply behind the listener on Time Bridges, to tones that dig deep and parts that move around the space on “Elements of Life,” the mix is truly expansive. Heights have been gently filled with percolating keyboard parts to flowing synth pads, while elements pop up from all corners and tastefully take to flight across the soundscape. The 5.1 downmix from the Auro3D mix is very satisfying and provides plenty of depth across the floor. The stereo mix offers an entirely different characteristic and gels very nicely across the front speakers, falling nicely further in and occasionally stepping out in front. The transparency and sonics across all of the mixes is stellar with no undesirable edge. This album has fast become my favorite immersive release for 2024.

Blank's musical journey continues to push boundaries, defying conventional norms. "Resonance" stands as proof of his innovative spirit and his ability to create expansive soundscapes that captivate and transport audiences into realms of tranquility and reflection.

Spatial audio zoniacs are sure to embrace the Pure Audio Blu-ray which contains Dolby Atmos 48 kHz / 24-bit, 7.1.4 Auro-3D 48 kHz / 24-bit (which is 5.1 compatible), and a Stereo 48 kHz / 24-bit mixes of the entire album. Additionally, the deluxe set includes Five awesome Bonus Videos in Atmos that fans won’t want to miss, a CD, plus a 24-page Booklet in English and German.

Released February 15, 2024.

 

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 Format Info

FPure Audio Blu-ray with Dolby Atmos 48 kHz / 24-bit, 7.1.4 Auro-3D 48 kHz / 24-bit (which is 5.1 compatible), and a Stereo 48 kHz / 24-bit mix + CD. Also available via streaming platforms.

 

 

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 About the Author

Wesley Derbyshire Profile Image

Wesley is a lifelong music enthusiast. He started his career in the recording industry in New York City as an audio engineer, producer, and studio manager. Subsequently he toured across America as a guitarist with the short-lived band Land's Crossing. After many years in the technology sector and amassing a substantial vinyl and CD collection, he delved into immersive audio and created Hi-Res Edition to share with other listeners about the sound quality and discrete mixes available on many formats. He recently upgraded his system to 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos and continues to seek out and share about the best sounding releases.

 

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