28 oct 2021

Listen to an Air album as if you were in the studio with the band

Air’s 10,000 Hz Legend (2001) was re-released on Friday November 5 in a mix using Dolby Atmos technology. Developed by Apple Music, this new listening mode allows you to be immersed in the sound itself and hear it spinning all around you. 

With this latest innovation, many feel they are suffering from auditory hallucinations. Spatial Audio, offered by Apple since June 2021, is a minor revolution in the music industry. Thanks to Dolby Atmos technology, this new listening mode gives you the sensation of being immersed in the sound itself, and of hearing it spinning all around you. So that’s what happened to us, as we sat quietly in a studio in the 10th arrondissement of Paris: a woman seemed to call out to us, with a squeaky laugh, from the front door. But of course, it didn’t exist. His voice comes straight out of a track on the French band Air’s third album, 10,000 Hz Legend, released in 2001 and reissued first exclusively on Apple Music and then, from November 5, on all streaming platforms – but only in a remastered version.


This is exactly what Spatial Audio is for: as well as enabling artists to create music differently, it sublimates pre-existing works, gives them a new dimension and, in the case of 10,000 Hz Legend, reveals a previously unreleased aspect of an album. Bruce Keen, the sound engineer who had already worked on the 2001 opus and participated in its remastering, confirms: “With this spatialization project, we succeeded in multiplying the sound of the orchestra. When Jean-Benoit [Dunckel, one half of Air] listened toit, and told us he wished the album had come out like that.” At the time, in fact, the duo had difficulty mixing the instruments, which were too numerous, and had trouble“placing them in space“. It therefore took the two sound engineers five years to release the record using Dolby Atmos technology: “We started in 2016 and it’s been hard to recapture the sound of the tracks from twenty years ago. Because we don’t use the same machines anymore, and because in the 2000s, we were crushing CDs…“says Gildas Lointier. But the result lives up to expectations: the drums of Brian Reitzell – who, after recording the album, became music editor, notably for Sofia Coppola with Lost in Translation -Beck’s harmonica sounds like he’s just stepped out of a Sergio Leone western.


And if this reissue is significant, it’s because this album   represents a turning point in Air’s career. On its release, it anchored the band in a post-rock vein, almost at odds with the soaring ambience of the ultra-famous Virgin Suicides soundtrack (2000). The tracks, which oscillate between pure electronica (on the sublime Electronic Performers, the album opener), folk(The Vagabond) and pop(Don’t Be Light), take the listener aboard the vessel that brings them close to the sound of the future, the same sound that, twenty years on, still seems to belong to the realm of science fiction. 


10,000 Hz Legend (2001 ) by Air, available in a Dolby Atmos version on Apple Music and in Spatial Audio on certain equipment.