Alan Williams is among my favorite musical discoveries of recent years. He’s a New England-based musician, currently performing both solo and with the folk-rock trio Birdsong At Morning. He’s also an educator, currently serving as chairman of the Department of Music and coordinator of the music business program at UMass Lowell.

Williams has also become a popular figure in the world of immersive audio, having created 5.1 surround sound mixes of Birdsong At Morning’s last two studio albums – 2015’s A Slight Departure and 2018’s Signs and Wonders – as well as his solo albums, 2021’s Evidence Unearthed and 2022’s Currents.

Now, in the Summer of 2023, his latest immersive undertaking is a brand-new remix of Bound, Birdsong At Morning’s debut EP originally released in 2008.

The first offering of a four-part series of EPs issued in six-month intervals, Bound introduced the richly-textured arrangements of Birdsong At Morning with a decidedly laid-back, acoustically oriented sound. Each successive release would expand that palette, increasing both the tempo and energy. The remaining EPs – Heavens, Vigil, and Lumens – will be treated to similar immersive updates and released over the course of the next year, eventually gathered together into a single collection entitled Annals of My Glass House.

Birdsong At Morning Bound 5.1

Some readers may recall that in a 2021 interview with us, Alan had previously teased a 5.1 revisitation of Annals:

“Before I embarked on the Evidence Unearthed project, I was contemplating a remix of “Annals,” especially with an ear to 5.1. But the older version of Nuendo project files wouldn’t properly open, and I gave up in frustration. I’m sure a little (probably more than a little) online sleuthing could solve the problem, so there’s a very real possibility of an updated version in the future.”

There are no immediate plans for a physical release of the immersive mixes; they will be made available exclusively as high-resolution 5.1 FLAC downloads through IAA’s online shop!

There are two versions available on August 4 – the standard edition, which contains a 5.1 mix of the album along with a PDF of graphics, lyrics, and credits; and a deluxe package that also includes an instrumental version in 5.1 surround.

To celebrate the upcoming release of Bound, we thought it’d be interesting to take a look back at Williams’ prior four 5.1 surround releases, all of which are still available to purchase digitally through IAA’s shop as well as in physical CD/Blu-Ray configuration through Blue Gentian Records.

Birdsong At Morning - A Slight Departure (2015)

Birdsong At Morning Slight Departure IAA

A Slight Departure (2015) is Birdsong At Morning’s second studio album, and the first to be issued in 5.1 surround. It ventures beyond the intimate, quietly-contemplative nature of Annals of My Glasshouse, delivering an album with a broader sonic palette and a notable increase in energy. Standout songs include “Never To Part,” “Dimestore Dreamers,” the haunting “Midnight Vespers.” and the short instrumental “Kipahulu Sunrise.”

I found Williams’ approach to 5.1 surround to be slightly unorthodox, but effective nonetheless. Here’s what he had to say about it when asked:

Purchase A Slight Departure in the IAA Shop!

Birdsong At Morning - Signs and Wonders (2018)

Birdsong At Mornign Signs and Wonders IAA

Signs & Wonders (2018), Birdsong At Morning’s third studio album and second to receive a 5.1 surround mix, marks a strong continuation from A Slight Departure. Standout songs include the harder-rocking “Waterfall” and “Study In Blue,” as well as a haunting cover of Supertramp’s classic “The Logical Song.”

Back in August 2021, we had the opportunity to ask Alan about Birdsong’s reimagined take on “The Logical Song:”

Purchase Signs and Wonders in the IAA Shop!

Alan Williams - Evidence Unearthed (2020)

Evidence Unearthed (2020) was an effort 25 years in-the-making. Originally titled Evidence, the album was recorded in 1994 and intended for a Spring 1995 release. Shortly after sending out promotional copies and receiving positive reviews in the Boston press, Williams lost faith in the project and canceled the album’s release.

Over two decades later, Williams opted to remix the lost album in stereo & 5.1 with newly-recorded vocals and string arrangements. The 5.1 mix is excellent, with plenty of isolated elements in the rear speakers and “you-are-there” ambience that sounds as if the drums are being played live in your listening room. In addition to the excellent immersive mixing, I found the album’s country-rock/folk sound to be quite accessible and easy to listen to. The Jackson Browne-esque opening track, “Tell All The World,” acts as an easy entry point for new listeners.

Purchase Evidence Unearthed in the IAA Shop!

Alan Williams - Currents (2022)

Currents marks a strong continuation from Evidence Unearthed, with even more variety in terms of style, arrangement, and instrumentation. As always with Williams’ music, the string arrangements are a highlight and add a good bit of drama to the material. Genre-wise, the album combines elements of country rock, progressive rock, chamber pop, and folk for a wholly-unique result.

“Think Of The Night” makes for an explosive opening, with the massive-sounding drum kit filling the entire listening space. Williams’ commanding lead vocal emanates from the front and center speakers, with acoustic guitars and strings percolating from the rear.

The title track, “Currents,” is undoubtedly a standout from a surround standpoint. The ocean sound effects in the back speakers sound great, and the middle section with the drums spread over the entire soundfield and Williams’ telephone-EQ’d voice moving from speaker-to-speaker clockwise around-the-room is just too cool.

Purchase Currents in the IAA Shop!

Author picture
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.