There are many moments when music captures a time, a place, evokes emotion and takes you on a journey. But when the audio is spatialised, bringing out hitherto unheard nuances, it takes on new meaning. This is just what happened when spatial audio specialist Sonosphere was asked to re-mix the tracks for up-and-coming Saudi artist and producer BluePaper’s newly launched EP, Elephant Rock.

Having worked under the radar for many years, with the Kingdom’s project 2030 now well underway and with music playing an integral part, BluePaper produced five tracks for his EP that form a unique fusion of Middle East and western-style electronica, that is both evocative and emotive.

In November 2021, Matthew Dicks, Executive Director Music & Talent at global music and new media platform, MDLBEAST, and producers of the epic MDLBEAST Soundstorm Festival held in Riyadh, approached Sonosphere to work on BluePaper’s project.

“He wanted to get the tracks mixed in Dolby Atmos and sent them to us with the proviso that there might need to be more content added,” says Sonosphere Director, Jamie Gosney. “But when Phil Wright, our Senior Mix Engineer, heard them, he said they were amazing. We decided to go over the top with the spatialisation, using the movement processor within the Atmos spatialisation suite to create the space the music deserves.”

Phil asked Jamie to listen to the spatialised tracks before they invited Matthew to hear them. From the opening of the first track, Riyadh at Twilight, he was transfixed. “I was transported in my imagination to the bazars of Marrakech, which as it turned out, was exactly BluePaper’s intention,” he says. “It was so beautiful and so moving, tears rolled down my cheeks.”

Matthew was then invited to Sonosphere’s 3D studio in Metropolis Studios. He was blown away. “BluePaper’s music is a wonderful example of the enchanting and romantic Arabic instrumentation with a hypnotic house beat, a perfect example of musical and cultural fusion that is the foundation of WTR and MDLBEAST Records,” he says. “As a start-up label, we are open to innovation in distribution, performance and formats, and a visit to the Sonosphere studio was really inspiring.”

BluePaper happened to be travelling to the UK and went to the studio to hear what the Sonosphere team had done. “At first, he sat there with his head in his hands. We thought, ‘Oh no, he hates them!’” Jamie recalls. “But he looked up after the first track and there was a tear in his eye. He said, ‘I just can’t ever go back to stereo’.”

Taking the elements of each track out of the norm of a standard stereo mix and reproducing them in Dolby Atmos, allows the listener to hear the nuances in each track, transporting them to far flung places. And whilst the ability to listen to spatial audio is not yet ubiquitous, Wright notes that the advantage to creating a Dolby Atmos mix is that stereo version it renders down to is still better than the originally stereo mastered version. “This is because of the way the Dolby processor works,” Phil explains. “It takes care of all the out of phase information, taking the spatialisation and doing a similar thing with just two speakers.”

“It was such a privilege to work with an artist and producer who has been working in the background for many years and is now able to bring his music to the world,” concludes Jamie. “Everyone needs to hear this amazing artist.”

To hear BluePaper’s unique new compositions, listen to the Elephant Rock EP here.