The Beach Boys’ seminal 1966 album Pet Sounds has been given a new mix in immersive Dolby Atmos by Grammy-winning producer Giles Martin. The mix was personally requested of Martin by the group and is now available to stream via Capitol/UMe on Apple Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, and Tidal.
Martin was given access to the original analog tapes by the Beach Boys and based the revolutionary new way of listening to the classic LP on Brian Wilson’s original 1966 mono mix and Mark Linett’s 1997 stereo mix as guides.
In a Q&A session at the London playback of the mix last week at Dolby’s London studios, Martin said of his process on the record: “You listen to the original mono mix and you try to unlock what they were trying to do. You can’t be them, but you’re trying to understand. It’s not about technology, it’s about a song, and whether a song makes you feel something.”
Martin has been at the forefront of the groundbreaking Dolby Atmos technology, helming the sequence of special edition and anniversary releases by The Beatles, including last year’s universally-praised Revolver. With Pet Sounds, media representatives at the playback were united in admiration for the extraordinary new dimensions given to this undisputed classic by the mix, which places the listener in the center of the music and unlocks previously unknown depths of detail to its sonic brilliance.
Martin joked with the audience about the responsibility afforded him in creating the new mix. “Part of you is going ‘You can do this, it’s going to be amazing’ and then a little voice goes ‘You won‘t get away with it.’ The thing that I try and do, whether it’s The Beatles, the Stones or the Beach Boys, is to put that information of being a [most loved listening experience]… into the record, so that it opens out a bit.
“In a strange way, it’s not about adding technology, it’s about taking technology away,” he added. “Mono is magnificent, however there’s a generation that won’t listen to mono, so how do you respect that? The great thing about immersive audio is that…you can have roots in the middle and have voices come around you.”
‘The workings of a genius’
As quoted in the press announcement for the Dolby Atmos mix, Martin further describes Pet Sounds as an “iconic album that changed the face of popular music. It influenced The Beatles to go and make Sgt. Pepper’s, Sgt. Pepper’s then influenced Pink Floyd to go and make The Dark Side of the Moon. It’s a fascinating record because it’s really the workings of a genius, Brian Wilson, that sort of had boundless enthusiasm for ideas and textures.
“Moving Pet Sounds to Dolby Atmos means those worlds can be fully immersive, you can be surrounded by them, you can hear instruments that you never heard before, that are on the record, but they are now in a space where you can identify them. I kind of like the idea of imagine getting an old vinyl record, like Alice In Wonderland, and slowly start falling through the hole. That’s what immersive audio should do, you are literally surrounded by the records you love, and Pet Sounds is perfect for this.
“It’s an album of so much color and texture and imagination and the imagination becomes realized much more in the spatial realm,” he notes. “For me to be asked by the Beach Boys to work on this album was a huge honor, I was surprised and excited to get a chance to work on one of the most iconic albums of all time.”