American musician Michael Marquart is a multi-instrumentalist, producer, singer-songwriter, and frontman of the long-running progressive rock project A Bad Think. The Savior (2019), A Bad Think’s eighth studio release, received a Grammy nomination for Best Immersive Audio Album.
Marquart is also the founder of the Windmark Recording Studio in Virginia Beach, which has recorded many notable artists, including Coldplay, Jeezy, J. Cole, YG, Justin Timberlake, Pharrell, Kanye West, and Kendrick Lamar.
In anticipation of A Bad Think’s upcoming tenth album, X (2022), I thought it’d be interesting to take a look back at Marquart’s prior two immersive releases, both of which are still available to purchase digitally through IAA’s shop, as well as in physical Blu-Ray configuration through Windmark Recordings.
A Bad Think - The Savior (2019)
As mentioned above, The Savior (2019) is A Bad Think’s eight studio album and the first to be issued in 5.1 surround sound. Mixed by California-based engineering/producing legend Bob Clearmountain, the album received a nomination for Best Immersive Audio Album at the 2020 Grammy Awards.
Similar to Clearmountain’s other 5.1 remixes for artists such as Roxy Music and Bob Marley, the center speaker is engaged heavily for bass guitar, kick drum, lead vocals, and other key elements. The remaining instrumentation is spread wide across the room, with individual synths, guitars, and backing vocal passages hard-panned to different speakers.
A Bad Think - Lifelike (2021)
Lifelike (2021) sees Marquart delving further into the realm of immersive audio, with the album recorded from the ground up with surround reproduction in mind. In the “making of” documentary included with the Blu-Ray audio release, Marquart noted that many of the overdubs were recorded with immersive microphone arrays such as Neumann’s KU-100 “fritz” binaural dummy head and Sennheiser’s AMBEO.
Lifelike features not one, but two distinct multichannel mixes. There’s a 5.1 mix, created alongside the stereo version by Bob Clearmountain, and a Dolby Atmos version courtesy of Steve Genewick and Dave Way. Each mix highlights the album in a different way. Whereas Clearmountain's 5.1 mix quite aggressively channels the individual instruments (the guitar pattern in “Sign Of The Times” audibly hops from speaker-to-speaker around the room), the Atmos mix is a bit more spacious and conservative in its approach.
A Bad Think - X (2022)
The forthcoming X (2022) has Marquart teaming up with Clearmountain and Dave Way once again, except this time the album is presented only in stereo & Dolby Atmos with no dedicated 5.1 surround option. Continuing the high standard set by the prior two releases, X features 13 original songs presented in glorious high-resolution 7.1.4 surround sound.
The opening track, “The Meaning Of Life,” begins with a synthesizer swirling above and behind the main listening position. Listeners may also take note of the dueling guitars spread between the side and rear surround channels throughout “Who Will Win.” There are passages where Marquart’s double-tracked vocals fill the listening space, split between the center and side speakers. Needless to say, it’s a release that audiophiles and immersive music fans won’t want to miss.
In the coming weeks leading up to the release of X, IAA is proud to partner with a digital scavenger hunt catered specifically towards audiophile fans of A Bad Think. We’ll be releasing more information (and possible clues and hints!) in the weeks ahead. Those who are able to solve the puzzles will receive exclusive prizes for audio lovers. Stay tuned for more!