British musician Bruce Soord is a rapidly-rising star in the world of immersive audio. Soord spent the better part of the 2010s creating a multitude of 5.1 surround remixes for both his own creative outlet, The Pineapple Thief, as well as other modern progressive rock acts such as Katatonia, Opeth, Tesseract, Haken, Riverside, and Gong.

Soord’s latest immersive undertaking is the How Did We Find Our Way? 1999-2006 box set, featuring brand new 5.1 surround & Dolby Atmos mixes of The Pineapple Thief’s first seven (!) studio albums made under the independent Cyclops label. To celebrate this extensive new reissue, we’re taking a look back at all the prior releases from Soord and The Pineapple Thief currently available in immersive audio.

Bruce Soord (2015)

Bruce Soord 2015 Album 5.1

Bruce Soord released his debut solo album in October 2015. The self-titled album was recorded during the summer of 2015 at Soord’s UK studio, featuring ten tracks written and performed by Soord with Darren Charles (Godsticks) playing additional guitar. 

Having wanted to make a solo album for many years, Soord explores the softer, dreamier side of his songwriting here - more acoustic in nature, whilst retaining depth in its arrangement. The album is a celebration of youthful idealism as much as it is a eulogy of times past.

Though this was one of his very first 5.1 efforts, it's still excellent even in comparison to his more recent work. The center-channel isolated vocals in particular are really well-done on this album; they stand out really nicely yet also sound integrated with the overall presentation. I also really like how the drums aren't mixed solely to the front speakers – it almost sounds like the kick is inside your head during "Born In Delusion."

The stereo vocal delays in the rears during "Buried Here" sound incredibly cool. The dueling electric guitars in the rears throughout "The Odds" are also a lot of fun, as is hearing a different conga part in each corner during "Leaves Leave Me." All that being said, the best surround moment on the album for me would have to be the guitar solo midway through "Familiar Patterns” – there are different mono delays in each rear speaker, causing the guitar to bounce around the listener's head.

“…the way I approach [mixing in surround] is to imagine myself right in the middle of the song. Almost anything goes for me in terms of placement. The drums tend to stay in the front, and you can’t have too much coming from the back because many listeners use small satellite speakers. My goal is to make it an immersive experience, like literally dipping your head right into the music.”

Purchase Bruce Soord in the IAA Shop!

Your Wilderness (2016)

Pineapple Thief Your Wilderness 5.1

Your Wilderness (2016) was The Pineapple Thief’s eleventh studio album, and the first to feature Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree, King Crimson) behind the drum kit. Featuring striking artwork by Carl Glover, lyrically the album follows the journey of a parent and child through love, estrangement and reconciliation as their lives unfold. 

"In Exile" kicks the proceedings off with a bang, showcasing Harrison's iconic drum sound. In addition to the harder-rocking "Tear You Up" and "Take Your Shot," Your Wilderness also spotlights the band's more tender, ambient side with tracks like "That Shore" and "Where We Stood." "No Man's Land" combines both sides of Soord's songwriting, with the gentle acoustic intro building up to an explosive finale.

The album was initially released in the 5.1 DVD-Audio format as part of a multi-disc deluxe edition, but it later became more easily-attainable as part of the Where We Stood Blu-Ray. The 5.1 surround mix is excellent, generally featuring elements such as harmony vocals, strings, keys/piano, electric guitar, and even some guitar solos in the rear speakers.

“The surround is usually the last part of the process. I’ll mix in stereo, then 5.1, and finally Atmos. I remember reading an article mentioning that no one ever starts with stereo, you’re supposed to begin with the most complex mix and scale it down from there. I guess that must be how it works for film and TV. By starting with stereo, I’m able to expand all the effects and bring out a lot of ‘ear candy’ in the surround.”

Purchase Your Wilderness in the IAA Shop!

Where We Stood (2017)

Pineapple Thief Where We Stood 5.1

Bringing an unforgettable 14-date European Winter tour of their acclaimed 2016 album Your Wilderness to a close, The Pineapple Thief, led by post-progressive mastermind Bruce Soord and reinforced by Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree, King Crimson) on drums, gave a truly awe-inspiring performance on February 11, 2017 at the sold out Islington Assembly Hall in London. 

Where We Stood showcases tight playing from both band regulars and guests on tracks from Your Wilderness, including “In Exile,” “No Man's Land” and “The Final Thing On My Mind,” and from the classics from previous albums, “Nothing At Best,” “Show A Little Love” and “Simple As That.”

Purchase Where We Stood in the IAA Shop!

Dissolution (2018)

Pineapple Thief Dissolution 5.1

Dissolution was the follow-up album to 2016's Your Wilderness, and was the band’s second album to feature King Crimson and Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison, spurring The Pineapple Thief on as leaders of Europe’s experimental rock domain.

Dissolution leans further into the band's heavier side with songs like "All That You've Got" and "Far Below," ultimately concluding with two longer-form modern prog epics in "White Mist" and "Shed A Light".

The album concept tells of the dark consequences of living in a society in which everything is played out on a public stage (a theme paralleled in the cover art, which was created by 'glitching' the original photographs).

"In a time when we are supposed to be bound closer together than ever, I have never felt so apart from the world. We are living through a revolution and right now I am not sure it’s a good one. Lyrically, [Dissolution] is the most vivid I have been."

Purchase Dissolution in the IAA Shop!

All This Will Be Yours (2019)

Bruce Soord All This Will Be Your 5.1

Soord released his second solo album in the Fall of 2019, entitled All This Will Be Yours. The three-disc deluxe edition includes a DVD with both the main album and bonus “acoustic reworkings” of the same songs in 5.1 & stereo.

The album, inspired by the unexpected birth of his third child, is worlds away from the more rock-oriented style of his previous project, The Pineapple Thief’s Dissolution (2018). It’s a collection of somber, ominous, mostly acoustic songs that express valid concerns about the future.

The 5.1 mix is stunning, making extensive use of the rear speakers for acoustic guitars, backing vocals, and some percussive elements like tambourines or shakers.

Soord takes the immersion even further by pushing the tom-toms and cymbals out behind the listener, most notably in the song “One Misstep.” Most revelatory of all, his trademark stacked harmonies that blend into a unified voice in the stereo mix have been separated and anchored in different positions within the 360-degree space.

Purchase All This Will Be Yours in the IAA Shop!

Versions Of The Truth (2020)

Pineapple Thief Versions Of The truth 5.1

Released in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the band’s thirteenth studio album and third to feature Gavin Harrison’s drumming raised their exceptional standards once more. 

Soord’s solo effort released one year prior was driven by acoustic guitar, leaving space for the prolific songwriter to experiment with texture and ambiance. The swirling textures, synth pads, and delayed effects seem to have stayed with him. They subtly encroach into the mix throughout Versions of the Truth, adding atmosphere and character throughout.

The album fits perfectly in the 2020 landscape in a similar way, at least thematically, that Radiohead’s OK Computer encapsulated the angst of the generation. The idea of “post-truth” and manipulation is a central theme. The vocals have a tender desperation to them, and at times, a sense of real dread.

Purchase Versions Of The Truth in the IAA Shop!

Nothing But The Truth (2021)

Pineapple Thief Nothing But Truth 5.1 Atmos

Originally performed live via streaming to a worldwide audience in April 2021, Nothing But The Truth is a roughly 90-minute concert film shot on an elaborate soundstage with multiple cameras. Each song was truly recorded in one take, with minimal editing or other studio trickery. Due to popular demand, the band have reissued the film on Blu-Ray disc complete with new 5.1 & Dolby Atmos immersive mixes.

Given that this is a live project with minimal overdubbed or pre-recorded elements, it’s unsurprising that the 5.1 & Dolby Atmos mixes of Nothing But The Truth have been approached quite a bit differently. Make no mistake though, these are fully-immersive surround mixes that place the listener right in the center of the performance.

The 5.1 & Atmos mixes are rather clever in the sense that the position of each band member’s instrument or vocal matches their position on screen. Bandleader Bruce Soord is in the center of the soundstage, with the band and camera crew surrounding him. Gavin Harrison’s drum kit faces him, while session guitarist George Marios is standing directly behind him. Bassist Jon Sykes is off to the left and keyboardist Steve Kitch is on the right.

"We're all in a circle with the camera going around: Gavin’s drums in the front, [rhythm guitarist] George [Marios] in the back. Steve on one side, and [bassist] Jon [Sykes] on the other. I placed everything in surround just as it was in the video. It worked really well and sometimes when the camera was moving, you could get away with moving some things around as well."

Purchase Nothing But The Truth in the IAA Shop!

Give It Back (2022)

Pineapple Thief Give It Back 5.1 Atmos

Recorded throughout the lockdown, Give It Back (2022) is a collection of twelve older songs from the albums 137 (2002) Ten Stories Down (2004), Little Man (2006), and All The Wars (2012) re-recorded, remixed & “re-wired” with Gavin Harrison’s drumming and new vocals by Soord.

If you’re familiar with the original recordings of these songs, these new reworked versions can be a bit jarring at times. “Dead In The Water,” previously more of a ballad-type piece with the intensity bubbling under the surface, hits hard right from the start due to the inclusion of Harrison’s drums.

The new drums also alter the feel of “Boxing Day,” which was previously dominated by a slower acoustic feel and less rhythm presence. Comparing the old and new renditions of “Give It Back” shows just how far Soord has come as a singer in this past decade.

"The main reason [Give It Back] came about was because when we played live with Gavin [Harrison] on drums, we had reworked a lot of the back catalog stuff from before Your Wilderness to fit his style. We were all surprised by how fresh the older songs sounded live, and I think that's what gave us the idea to record it. We've all got our own home studios, and the dreaded lockdown was the perfect opportunity to do it. I didn’t realize how many songs I’d written until Gavin started going through all the old albums."

The 5.1 surround sound mixes are every bit as impressive as fans have come to expect from Soord. Harrison’s drums and Soord’s vocals hold down the fort upfront, while the rear channels fill up with backing vocals, keys, rhythm guitars, and percussion. The highs are crisp yet not overbearing, whereas the low-end is powerful but not excessive. The band just sounds absolutely huge and even more powerful in this format.

The Dolby Atmos mix kicks the immersion factor up a notch, with ethereal elements like delays, keyboard patches, and sustained guitar notes assigned to the height speakers. The height channels don’t always stand out, but they add a subtle bit of realism and cohesion to the overall surround field. There are some good moments of ear candy up there as well, such as the opening guitar feedback effect to “Dead In The Water” or piano throughout “Boxing Day.”

Purchase Give It Back in the IAA Shop!

How Did We Find Our Way? 1999-2006 (2023)

Pineapple Thief How Did We Find Our Way 5.1 Atmos

Ever since Bruce Soord first embraced immersive audio for his 2015 self-titled solo album, immersive music fans have wondered if he’d ever consider going back and remixing the band’s vast discography for surround. 

The new How Did We Find Our Way? 1999-2006 box set finally answers that question, featuring new 5.1 & Dolby Atmos mixes of the albums Abducting The Unicorn/Abducted At Birth (1999), One Three Seven (2002), Variations On A Dream (2003), 8 Days (2003) 8 Days Later (2004), 10 Stories Down (2005), and Little Man (2006).

As a relatively new fan of the band (the first release I bought from them was Where We Stood back in 2017), I was pretty blown away by how great some of these earlier songs are. Highlights for me include the Smashing Pumpkins-esque opener "Private Paradise," the moody "Perpetual Night Shift," and the longer epics "Remember Us" and "We Love You."

"At the time, I was like a kid in a toy shop. This was back in 1999. In those days, you had to be a real enthusiast and a bit of a nerd to build a working home studio. I was so excited working with my sampler, getting the iconic mellotron sound for the first time. You just want to do every possible thing that you can think of. That’s what it sounds like when I listen to the early stuff. When you add the middle section and a big outro, before you know it eleven minutes have gone by."

I think Soord has outdone himself on this set, with nearly 9 hours(!) of music remixed in 5.1 surround & Dolby Atmos. As with Give It Back, the 5.1 & Atmos mixes follow unique spatial approaches and spotlight different aspects of the music within the expanded soundstage.

The Atmos mixes interestingly tend to have a good bit of dry drum signal in the height speakers (in addition to isolated elements like backing vocals, synths, and rhythm guitars): it really does give that interesting effect of being in a 'bubble' of sound, with the kit floating in space instead of being tied to just the front channels.

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About the Author
Jonathan is an audio engineering enthusiast from New York with a passion for immersive audio, having amassed a formidable collection of multichannel optical discs and quadraphonic vinyl. He earned his undergraduate degree in Television-Radio from Ithaca College and is currently enrolled in a Master’s Program in Audio Technology.