William Orbit & Dolby Atmos
It’s Christmas here in London. December has officially arrived. I was a little early so I enjoyed taking in the view of the Christmas Trees. I love this time of year as everywhere you look, the world just sparkles. I went inside and there was a beautiful soft scent in the air of cinnamon, clove and honey. I sat at a little table on a grey velvet chair and felt grateful for the warmth while having a chai latte with oat milk. As I looked at a beautiful wooden spiral staircase filled with glowing balls of lights, my eyes met a gentleman sitting at a nearby table. Above him shone a red neon sign saying “Electric Cinema” which is where I figured my evening was going to take place.
My camera and tripod waiting patiently by my feet I continued to enjoy my latte. The gentleman from across the way got up and came towards me.
“Are you Gem?” He asked.
“Yes!” I replied.
“I thought you might be as I saw the kit”. He said.
This was Jay, who turned out to be the man in charge of organising this incredibly special event. It wasn’t long afterwards when there, standing in the foyer absorbing the festive vibe were the two men we were looking forward to seeing. William Orbit and his manager Karl Nielson.
Walking to the hotel room was an experience in itself as William recalled the days when these long wooden curved hallways led to studios for the BBC. “You know, back when we did Top of The Pops!” William said with a smile. It’s a very beautiful building indeed and the wood has stood the test of time with its stunning craftsmanship.
With our coats put away, William gave us a briefing on the plans for the evening. He brings his book of Shakespeare with him everywhere he goes.
“If I need something to read for soundcheck…” he said with a glint in his eye.
So I put the book in my camera bag just in case. We headed back down the curved hallway, back to the lobby and down the spiral staircase into the cinema. Now, we’ve all been in a cinema before, but this! For a start it’s incredibly beautiful. The seats are huge, comfortable and all velvet with little lamps and glass tables on either side of each chair. Perfectly placed for your glass of whatever you fancy. A foot rest placed in front of each chair so you can really sit back and absorb your surroundings. The curtains were a lovely blue and green lit from the projector. Always look up. The ceiling had an extraordinary pattern of speakers in various design formations. They went all along the walls too. You could feel it was different in there even just when speaking quietly, this was no ordinary cinema room. This space was all fitted by Dolby Atmos.
I’ve read about Dolby Atmos, I’ve heard it talked about, I know it is said to be the best of the best, but I still didn’t know exactly what it all meant. Soundcheck was 4pm. The evening was hosted by Radio One’s Jess Izatt. There were two parts to the night. A 6.30pm show and the second at 7.30pm with a “Q&A” to go with each session. The first part welcomed the company of the immensely highly regarded record label, “Anjuna” whom William’s new EP “Starbeam” has been released by. It is unusual for a label to have a following in the way that this one does. Usually a fan will follow an artist that they like, but Anjuna has a defining independence about it. “Starbeam” landed on 1st December 2021. This is the first time William has released any new music in 7 years. Here with Dolby Atmos adds another dimension entirely to the way in which we listen to music.
The lights went down, the music started. The music takes you on a beautiful ride of electronica, synthesisers and elements of piano with what feels like whooshes and sparkles of stars. This is an extraordinary spacial composition of sound. The vocals, the piano, the synthesisers, the electronic beeps, clicks and that stunning bass. From floral spheres to some serious depth, I just loved it. It is normal to say one ‘feels’ music when listening to it, however, when in the presence of a dolby sound system, you literally feel it! I mean, it is around you. You are inside it. I personally felt this in a way that I have not experienced before. Each person sitting in that room will have their own unique experience of this sound as the vibrations that you encounter will vary depending upon your own positioning in the room. William sat in the front left seat in the corner thinking that would be the worst place to sit, and he delighted in what he heard, noting that there really was ‘no bad seat in the house’.
“Do you cook?” Jess asked curiously.
“I like to cook up bass lines!” William replied.
Is it visual? Of course it is. An exploration through the senses of your being as the intensity guides you on a ride as the rhythms and the vibrations from this 3D bubble embrace you with this pure dynamic of perfect sound. William Orbit is not just a music producer, he is also a visual artist and loves to paint and create all sorts of wonderful things. For this occasion he has released a music video. William is one of these people who thinks up quite extraordinary concepts and the best part is, he actually does them! Even if it does mean that he almost flooded his house, and practically blew it up. His art stands strong and we got to see this as the screen illuminated. What had been a dark immersive situation, was now a sensory overload of sound and animated art. Dancers, lights, splashes of colour, fire, water, nature, the forest, stars, lots of stars.
“I guess I just love sparkly things!” William said when Jess asked him about the visuals.
William has another surprise up his sleeve. A new album is coming in 2022. William Orbit will be releasing this with Warner Music. The second part of the night William invited Warner, Apple, Amazon, Dolby Atmos, NME, BBC Music, and so on. The album name is in its final discussions, so I’ll let you wait until William himself chooses to announce this. The album is impressive. References to the forest and the tribal beginnings of the earth, the calling of the wild in these sonic pathways. All I can say is, thank goodness this gifted soul didn’t shut shop and decide that he was finished, because this 7 year gap has brought him back with focus, integrity, depth and determination.
When you get your chance to immerse yourself in Dolby Atmos and William Orbit, you’ll chuck all your speakers in the bin and realise you’ve actually never heard any song that you’ve listened to in it’s full capacity unless it’s been done in this way. This is not about cranking the stereo up really loud, it’s about hearing the fine qualities of the details. The little sounds, the fine finesse and intricacies that were placed as the artist intended. What this also does is leave no room for error, for you can literally hear everything. So when you are in the presence of such sonic perfection, there really is no going back.
“I thought I was done!” William said as he spoke a little about the difficult times he has been through.
When you think of what William has already achieved, the awards he has won and who he has had the pleasure to work with, I think it is safe to say that William Orbit never left, he just needed a chance to find what it is that makes him tick, what it is that makes him create and most importantly, to enjoy it. He is timeless, and he is only just getting started.
William earnestly encouraged others to always take time to enjoy one’s achievements in life, as he did not allow himself this luxury in the past. With wisdom on his shoulders and gratitude as his mantra, his life time of experience has acquired him skills that are set to take the world by storm, and I have no doubt he will do just that.
It was a lovely sight as there, in this beautiful room, surrounded by the world’s top critics. William humbly smiled with immense gratitude being able to hear his music in this way and in such good company. Warm thanks went out to James Hockley who was with us as he mixed the dolby atmos tracks featured on “Starbeam”. As the Q & A came to a close, William had saved an encore for us to hear. Once again, the lights dimmed, dark and the sound rose up from all around us. A familiar vocal filled the room, one that we all know and love, a ‘Ray of Light’.
This is the future, sitting in a top spec cinematic theatre with the best sound system in the world hearing music from start to finish in such clarity and comfort. Pure luxury. You could listen to a track you’ve heard all your life and realise there were exquisite details that you simply didn’t know were there. It’s acoustic heaven. This is an exciting time as William Orbit is not just a mind field of imagination, he is a technical genius, a painter, a visionary. He is inside the molecules of every particle he creates and the way in which he lays them down is an art form in its entirety. His sound will be around for longer than our lifetime, but will grace the generations to come not only through what they hear, but through his technical and eye catching works. Britney Spears, PINK!, Madonna, All Saints… We are so looking forward to hearing what is coming up. Something tells me that there might be a “Grimes” collaboration on the way.
An English gent of such unique and respected style. Thank you for the music. We are loving this harmonious wonderland you are unravelling for us with such grace, wisdom and power. Onwards.
LET MUSIC BE YOUR TRIBE
All Images © Gem Rey All Rights Reserved.
Location: Electric Cinema / White City House.
Thanks & Respect to our guests in attendance for the Anjuna and Warner Music screening.
- Daniel Curpen (Anjuna
- David Lapushner (Anjuna)
- Becca McLeish (Cousin)
- Ralph Moore (Mixmag)
- Alice Morris (Ace Tate Management)
- Nick Reilly (Rolling Stone UK)
- Kate Hutchinson (Guardian)
- Ben Willmott (Juno)
- Kylie King
- Jane Gillard – Dolby
- Jake Fields – Dolby
- Joe Black – Universal
- Dom Donnely – Anjuna
- Carlene Morlese – Apple music
- Morenike Ariyibi – Apple music
- Will McGillrvay – Amazon
- Mitch Clarke – Amazon
- Kira Nachimowsk
- Assia Webster
- William Orbit
- Jay Pond Jones
- Jess Izzat
- James Hockley
- Karl Nielson
- Gem Rey
- Beth Wijayarthna
- Steve Chrisanthou
- Rosie Eden-Ellis
- Andrea Borgato
- Jess Izatt
- Lee Alexander
- Ralph Moore
- Ben Pester
- John Earls
- Nick Bray
- Matt Everitt
- Nathan goodman
- Jon Klein,
- Timi Sotire
- Andy Fordyce
- Alex Hart
- Michael De Lemos
- Matt Stoddart
- Penny Foster
- Ali Love