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Albums Of The Week: …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead | XI: Bleed Here Now

You don't need a quadraphonic system to appreciate the brilliance and intensity of the groundbreaking Austin band's immersive 11th studio album — but it likely helps.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Submitted for the listener’s approval: …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead present their 11th album Bleed Here Now, in historic quadraphonic surround sound, giving listeners an immersive experience that will take them through a listening journey from one track to the next.

XI: Bleed Here Now follows January 2020’s X: The Godless Void and Other Stories — an album that marked the Austin band’s 25th year together. Trail of Dead were supposed to spend 2020 touring with their newly assembled five-piece live lineup in support of X and celebrating their career milestone, but were sidelined by the pandemic. After the shock wore off and after months of very little to do, they decided to start working on a new album.

They decided to make an album in a way that hasn’t really been done since the ’70s — in quadraphonic sound. From the opening bombast of Our Epic Attempts to the alternative drive of Penny Candle to the thunderous 11-minute opus Taken By The Hand, this album is unlike anything the band has produced before, equal parts experimental and ambitious, yet still sounding honest and true to what the band is. XI: Bleed Here Now was produced by engineer Charles Godfrey alongside the band’s own Conrad Keely, who also created, directed, edited and produced all of the album’s artwork again.

Looking to recapture the Golden Age of rock and give the listener a more immersive experience, they connected with KamranV, who has been working with spatial sound since the early 2000’s and introduced them to Quark, a plug-in that makes creating an album in quadraphonic sound possible. While this takes place during the mixing stage, the intent led to broader recording decisions — for example setting up the mics with the idea they could mix them into four channels when tracking Tosca String Quartet for the live string arrangements on the opening theme Our Epic Attempts and the string performance on Millennium Actress, which also features the band’s old friend Amanda Palmer. When doing the vocals for Growing Divide, they brought in Spoon’s Britt Daniel, with Keely adding, “We thought how cool it would be to have our friend Britt Daniel come in to sing one of the harmonies, so that we could have four different voices separated out between two stereo mixes.”

XI: Bleed Here Now bridges the gap between artistry and technology, giving listeners an immersive and transportive experience. “Art has a role to play in the upcoming decade(s): It needs to point humanity towards solutions,” Keely says. “Our hope is that by expanding the ways we listen and hear; we expand our own inner (my parents would say spiritual) potential for the problem-solving to come.”