Blue Gentian Records and Immersive Audio Album are proud to present the second Birdsong At Morning EP, Heavens, newly remixed in 5.1 surround sound by leader Alan Williams.
In addition to his musical career (both solo and with Birdsong), Williams is also an educator– currently serving as chairman of the Department of Music and coordinator of the music business program at UMass Lowell.
It’s also the second offering of a four-part series of EPs issued in six-month intervals. The two remaining titles–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.
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!
Rest assured that the 5.1 mixes of Heavens are up to Williams’ usual high standard, with individual guitar, percussion, and vocal elements scattered all throughout the listening space. The drums sound massive, holographically positioned midway between the front-and-rear soundstages.
To further celebrate the re-release of Heavens, here are some comments from Alan on the making of each track.
"In the mid 1980s, Suzanne Vega's debut album turned my synth-immersed head around. Her minimalist lyrics, and especially her very precise and sparse guitar playing sounded so different from what I had long dismissed as "folk music." There's an element of her style in this guitar part, not consciously so, but in hindsight, so clearly present."
"Like a lot of my songs, this one long consisted of nonsense syllables, with the word "lobotomy" coming closest to real language. But that just didn't seem to match the feel of the music. After several weeks, I finally sat down to create a list of words that had the same or similar sounds to the syllables. Working alphabetically, "astronomy" came first. It became a short list."
Light In The Window:
"I'm from Asheville, North Carolina, as is the author Thomas Wolfe. This is my version of You Can't Go Home Again. The cosmic imagery comes courtesy of our Heavens theme. The lyric came quickly while sitting on a Cape Cod beach. Not sure why sunny spaces bring out the darkness in me – "Wishful Thinking" was largely written on a beach as well."
"This song is one of my favorites as the lyric maintains the metaphor while fully setting down the elusive feeling I hoped to convey. As a recording, Darleen's guitar takes this performance to another world, and Greg's vocal harmony feels like velvet. So much warmth contributed to a song about being frozen."
"For several years, I participated in a long distance bike ride (500 miles in five days) called Ride Far. This event benefited the providers of HIV/AIDS resources, and a small group of riders and crew raised over a million dollars over the course of eleven rides. Because of the nature of the event, and the small number of participants, close, deep, and lasting bonds were formed. The first verse of this song was inspired by the sight of thin tire tracks, left on the pavement just after a light rain, 4 days in, at the 395 mile mark."
"By this point, exhaustion left me fairly brain dead, and I would have followed those tracks anywhere. Of course they were left by one of my bonded brethren just a few feet ahead of me. But they led me safely home. Ok, not to home, but to a bunk bed in a campground – such comfort, such bliss. The second verse was inspired by the ending of the film, Children of Men. In such grey blankness, hope."
"[It's] about the inexhaustible search. Not a rebuke of belief, but a song in praise of unanswered questions. I'm content to leave the intangible untouched. Not everyone in the band is a fan of the song, but for some folks in the audience, it's the main reason to come to a show. Who knows why this is. It's a mystery."
“Once the astronomical theme had been established for Heavens, we needed to find a cover song with cosmic imagery. I remembered this song from the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers – the hypnotic guitar part and gorgeous strings (and Nicky Hopkins' delicate piano work) has always stood apart from most of the Stones catalog."
"When I was a teenager, I spent a long sleepless night listening to the radio after my true love introduced me to her boyfriend. At around 3am, this song came on the radio. Something about that guitar line just resonated, the closest I've come to God speaking to me. Let the airwaves flow.”
Purchase Heavens in the IAA Shop!