Oct 072010

Time is fleeting. You can’t stop it. You can’t bank it up and then make withdrawals when you need more. It passes by at an unalterable clip. The sun rises, the sun sets, another day is gone, and however much time you have left on earth is that much shorter.

This somewhat depressing fact of life leads some Type A personalities to search for ways of doing more with the hours allotted to us in each day. They try to speed things up in order to achieve the effect of slowing time down. This has been going on for a long — time. The result is that the pace of life all around us often seems frenzied.

Sometimes, the enveloping frenzy of our environment makes us think life is passing us by. It can create anxiety. It can lead even Type B or C personalities to accelerate the pace of their daily activities, to pack more into the hours they have before time, for them, runs out.

You might think listening to music is one of those activities that can’t be speeded up. Music unfolds at its own pace, at the tempo and for the duration set by its creators. Sure, you can always cut short your listening, but you’ve done nothing to the music. It is what it is, and all you’ve done is tune out of the flow.

That’s what I used to think, but I’m wrong (as I am about so many fucking things). In fact, you can speed up the pace at which music unfolds when you hear it. Yes, if you do that, you’ll be changing the music into something different, and in most cases the result will be garbled and degraded. But not always.  (see what we mean, after the jump . . .)

Earlier this week, our ingenious blogbrother Niek over at Death Metal Baboon had the inspired idea of accelerating the pace of some sludgy doom metal by a UK band called Blut, whose 2010 album Ritual and Ceremony he was reviewing. He cut out a 3-minute segment from one of the album’s three songs (each of which apparently lasts about 20 minutes), and then he used some sound-editing software to speed it up by a factor of three.

The result of this experiment was pretty fucking cool. As Niek correctly explained in his post, the original Blut music is more ritual noise than what most people would call “music” — though I kinda liked the original. But after Niek tripled the speed, the music emerged.  In his words:

“Suddenly there’s a rhythm, a chord pattern, something to bang your head to. And it’s all virgin-ass tightly played, which is all the more respect-demanding, given how slow it’s actually played. Shows there’s a bit more to this ‘ritual noise’ than you would expect superficially.”

So, here’s the 3-minute excerpt played at the speed which Blut intended, followed by the one-minute version that Niek created with the editing software:

Here’s the zapped-up version:

I have this suspicion that Version 2 is the version that Blut recorded, and then they slowed it down to create Version 1. Of course, I’m also suspicious that what we see when we look into the sky is the inside of a large sphere that encloses the earth, and that sphere is a marble that’s jingling in the pants of a kid in a parallel dimension.

I also wondered what would happen if you took some grindcore and slowed it down by a factor of three. It’s possible that life as we know it would come to an end. Or maybe time would stop. Or maybe you’d simply have something that sounded like ritual noise.

I want to find out. Niek was good enough to point me to the audio-editing software he used with his Blut experiment. Fuck knows if I can figure out how to use it, but I’m gonna give it a shot. All I need is the right slice of grind.

The ideal would be a grindcore instrumental, because I’m not sure the vocals would work out if slowed down by a factor of three. But I don’t know of any grind instrumentals, and maybe that won’t matter anyway.

We’d like to have your help — or at least the one or two of you readers who actually listen to grind (other than the grind we sometimes foist on you here at NCS). If you’ve got an idea for a song to use in this reversal of Niek’s experiment, leave us a comment. We’ll pick one, or maybe two, and then fuck around with the software this weekend and see what comes of it.

  14 Responses to “SLOW, THEN FAST”

  1. Well, you can’t usually understand the vocals anyway. It might actually work with vocals 😛

  2. Be careful with this experiment. We could be dealing with the sonic equivalent of dividing by zero.

    I’ll see what I can come up with though. This could be fun. Or terrifying. Terrifyingly fun?

    • Terrifyingly fun. If Islander can’t find any instrumental grindcore, I’d vote for Pig Destroyer or Agoraphobic Nosebleed.

      • Two of my favorites for sure, and I’m definitely going to include a song with vocals, even if I’m able to find an instrumental that qualifies as grind. I’m thinking maybe Behold the Arctopus or Blotted Science might work for that. They’re not grind bands per se, but they’ve got some pretty grindy-sounding instrumentals.

  3. I saw something similar to this on youtube, except it was done for Sunn O))). I’m currently listening to the original Blut clip, and it’s incredibly more palatable than most Sunn O))), which is what I define as “ritualistic” (seriously just go watch a clip of their live performance and you’ll see what I mean). People who like that band typically claim the music is more about the experience and being engulfed by the sound, but I don’t claim to be an expert as I’ve never been to a show. But yeah, good stuff with Blut there Niek.

  4. I just tried it really quickly with audacity (open source!) and a Flagiticious Idiosyncrasy in the Dilapidation track (I’m pretty sure I misspelled at least one of those words).

    I slowed it down first by 50% then again by 50% (my computer is slow and needs extra time to think). It sounds like white noise, with some strange banging noise in the background. Oh, and an angry demon is trying to crawl out of the speakers and rape my throat with a chainsaw.

    The guitars don’t sound like guitars. They sound like the whirling pits of a hell filled with nothing but raging fire.

    I wouldn’t listen to this all the time, but it seems like something fun to do once in a while. Hopefully someone with better audio program skills than I could make it sound….more…..something.

    • Oh, that sounds so cool. “White noise, with some strange banging noise in the background . . . an angry demon is trying to crawl out of the speakers and rape my throat with a chainsaw.” This is exactly what I was hoping for! I’m very encouraged.

  5. I’ve also been playing around a bit, although at the other end for the moment. I took that Harvey Milk song you had up and sped it up to 3x and it actually sounds a helluva lot better, although the vocals do sound a bit funny. At the risk of creating a black hole, I tried slowing it down to a third of the original. It made the original speed seem far better.

    Using VLC as a quick and dirty way to do it (I have other audio software, but it was already running), going beyond 4x with anything proved useless. I tried a song from Levi/Werstler’s Avalanche Of Worms for shiggles, but the audio simply disappeared. Maybe with other software, I won’t create a sonic vacuum.

    • I’m not sure that Harvey Milk song is a fair test, because almost anything would sound better than the original. 🙂
      I’m going to use the WavePad Sound Editor, which is what Niek used (assuming I can figure out how to make it work).

  6. Could this be the new equivalent of playing a record backwards and hearing messages from the devil???

  7. Ha, we actually play as slow as the version 1 on here, we do not slow things down in the studio. Drop out and Kill.



    • Hey, thanks for checking this out. I was only joking (sort of) when I suggested you guys played it like Version 2 and then slowed it down. And I really do like the original better than the speeded-up version. 🙂 Drop out and Kill!

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