PX Sound Series: Atmosphere

Bowers & Wilkin PX

We’re embarking on a sonic journey to unearth the nuances in your music with PX. Over the course of three blog posts we’ll uncover tracks, which PX – through its cutting-edge sonic features – delivers with sparkling insight, pin-point precision and space-defying depth.

Atmosphere: an element crucial to music. Its sonic traits provide total escapism from our surroundings, allowing us to instantly melt into our own special world inside our headphones.

So we’ve chosen a selection of tracks which – by virtue of their atmospheric properties, all channelled through PX’s crystal clear audio reproduction and over-ear design – help eliminate that sense of wearing headphones, by placing sounds outside the usual confines of the ‘can’.

The result? A rich, expansive atmospheric collection of songs that will give you a special listening experience.

1. Christine and the Queens – Christine

In this track, muscular synthesiser sounds are met by soaring, ethereal frequencies, the latter emerging from airy beats in a sophisticated electronic art-pop track whose production aesthetic exhibits an adept understanding of balance, blend and atmosphere. Eminently expressive and, at times, percussive, Christine’s voice seamlessly mediates between high and low frequencies with cool ease and presence.

2. Pink Floyd – Shine On You Crazy Diamond

Possibly one of the most atmospheric openings to a song ever composed, we had to include this masterpiece by rock stalwarts Pink Floyd. From the opulent synthesisers and ambient flutters of sound heard in the opening, to that iconic guitar riff at the 4-minute mark, this is musical immersion at its finest – and on so many levels.

3. Slowdive – Sugar For The Pill

A modern shoegaze classic, melancholic, reverb-drenched guitars create a powerfully distant sense of space, adding another sonic dimension to the band’s consummate songwriting. There are moments of absolute wizardry; the cascading wall of sound at 3:06 is nothing short of awe-inspiring while the 80s inspired synthesisers add a neat vintage twist to a very personal listening experience, proving why it was one of our favourite tracks of 2017.

4. James Blake – Limit To Your Love

Sparse, spacious, yet daring. Blake’s voice is conveyed with plenty of reverberant detail, lasting to the very tail end of his characterful vibrato. When the seismic, tremolo bass reaches your ears, the fidelity of the vocals doesn’t alter – it’s remarkably clean and holds its own in the track’s minimalist, yet vastly atmospheric soundworld.

5. Pixies – Hey

Raw alternative rock with a serious groove, the seemingly simple elements of guitar, bass, drums and vocals combine to produce an uninhibited jam with plenty of atmospheric nuance. From Joey Santiago’s cathartic signature guitar sound, to the ever changing reverb and presence of the drums, you can almost hear the sound engineer at work behind the mixing desk, making it impossible to deny the level of sonic detail so naturally on display here.

6. Mazzy Star – Into Dust

Who says minimalism can’t be atmospheric? A rather lonesome arrangement comprising of acoustic guitar, violin and solo vocals combines with melancholic harmonies and lyrics, summoning an otherworldly chamber of sound. One of dream-pop’s most captivating songs, Into Dust oozes with irresistible reverberance that PX delivers with charm.

7. Lambchop – Is A Woman

The proximity effect – where the singer stands closer than usual to the microphone – is cleverly used to conjure up an intimate atmosphere heard in frontman Kurt Wagner’s voice in this expressive performance. Accompanied by a piano in the beginning, the song matures into a hybrid of country and reggae: an atmosphere that is worth hearing to believe.

8. Fink – This Is the Thing – Live from Paradiso, Amsterdam

Some tracks were made to be heard live, and this recording captures the ambience stunningly well. Transporting you to the venue with apparent ease, Fink’s expressive vocal delivery disperses across the soundstage, while the unrelenting drums and acoustic guitar rhythms provide a solid sonic foundation for a tangible and atmospheric climax at the end.

9. Frank Sinatra, Count Basie – Fly Me To The Moon

Included in Sinatra’s 1964 album It Might as Well Be Swing, and accompanied by Count Basie and his Orchestra, Fly Me To The Moon is a jazz standard recognised and emulated all over the world. But what we like about this recording in particular – and what PX delivers so well – is the innately fun sense of swing, not to mention the explosive dynamics of the orchestra, arranged and conducted by the legendary Quincy Jones himself.

10. Ohia – The Black Crow

The guitar’s role in creating ambience should never be overlooked, and this track is a fine example of its significance. Viscerally played, its soporific rhythms combine with sparse drums to evoke a desolate setting within the soundstage, which perfectly complement lyrics of deterioration, eventually building into a musical cry for help.

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