A Bad Think is a project driven by the one-man wonder and many talents of Michael Marquart. The talented drummer, guitarist, keyboard player, singer and producer has played with A Flock of Seagulls and the Canadian super-group Alias, but it’s the music he makes with his solo project that’s closest to his heart. 

Less than a year after the release of A Bad Think's last studio outing Short St. (2023), Marquart has impressively managed to write, record and produce an entirely new 10-track album. Much like the prior four immersive releases, Cottonwood covers a lot of ground genre-wise with elements of country/western, more mainstream ‘feel-good' pop/rock, progressive rock, and various other styles in between. 

A Bad Think Cottonwood Dolby Atmos Auro-3D MKV Download IAA

Though the Dolby Atmos mix will soon become available on Apple Music and Tidal, the 48-khz/24-bit TrueHD/Atmos MKV files from IAA’s shop provide an infinitely more-rewarding experience for audiophiles. Additionally, since the album was recorded and mixed at 96-khz/24-bit resolution, we’re also supplying an Auro-3D 11.1 (7.1.4) version of the album.

Some of the more subtle time-based effects in the mix, such as the drum ambience in the height channels, seem to test the limits of the 768 kbps Dolby Digital Plus/JOC codec. With lossless Dolby TrueHD, the detail and clarity from the ADM master file is much better preserved.

Whereas legendary mixer Bob Clearmountain sat behind the board for prior records The Savior (2019), Lifelike (2021), X (2022) and Short St. (2023), immersive mixing duties for Cottonwood have instead fallen to longtime Marquart collaborator and four-time Grammy award-winner Dave Way. Throughout his decades-long career, Way has worked with dozens of well-known artists including Sheryl Crow, Fiona Apple, Mick Jagger, and Eric Clapton.

A Bad Think Cottonwood Dolby Atmos Auro-3D MKV Download IAA

Right from the first notes of opening track “10K Hours,” it’s clear that Way’s immersive mixing modus operandi is quite different from Cleamountain’s. Drum sound fills up the entire room, with the snare extending upwards from the center speaker into the front heights. Whereas previous releases had Marquart’s distinctive voice almost entirely isolated in the center speaker, here he’s in the front ‘phantom’ center with just a bit of vocal signal spilling over into the center.

Moving into the mellower “Bucket List,” chorused guitar washed over the entire soundstage while the bass guitar remains locked to the center channel. The drums come thundering just after the one-minute mark, with keyboards and distorted rhythm guitar filling in from the side surround speakers.

“Am I Ok?” again features sparkling acoustic guitars from the sides, nicely complimented Marquart’s vocal upfront. Synthesizers and ambience hover overhead, adding to the mysterious atmosphere of the song. The hard-driving “Good For Now” is definitely a highlight as well, featuring some fun interplay between the electric guitars in the front channels and synthesizers in the side surrounds.

A Bad Think Cottonwood Dolby Atmos Auro-3D MKV Download IAA

Another standout on the record would have to be the closing track, “Don’t Say A Word.” It starts with piano largely in the side surrounds, quickly joined by Marquart’s vocal upfront. An acoustic guitar upfront doubles the piano melody, while a subtle synthesizer part moves around overhead.

The sound quality of the Atmos mix is excellent across the board, but it is decidedly more conservative in spatial approach than Bob Clearmountain’s work on past A Bad Think immersive releases. Whereas Clearmountain might isolated individual instruments largely in specific speakers, Dave Way seems to have been aiming for a more-subtle sense of envelopment with Cottonwood.

Overall, Michael Marquart has delivered another excellent collection of songs enhanced further by a fabulous immersive presentation. Needless to say, this is a release that audiophiles and immersive music fans won’t want to miss!

Purchase Cottonwood in the IAA Shop!

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