Looking to get into the spirit of All Hallows’ Eve? Need some background music for your House of Horrors? Here’s the New Wave remix absolutely nobody knew they needed!
I like to take songs and tinker with them on audio editing software. I’m not Isosine, but I do get a kick out of hearing a familiar tune twisted into different shape– anything from simple stereo-widening, to changing the pitch on Big Star albums and making them sound like they’re being performed by Alvin & the Chipmunks. Last night, I took the B-52s classic “Rock Lobster”– a track that was already weird enough to begin with– and applied a Paulstretch effect. You’ve probably heard the Paulstretch a few times– it’s the audio engineers’ current go-to for making things sound spooky and ethereal. It’s also been making the rounds somewhat recently, with those “Justin Bieber Slowed Down 800% Sounds Like Sigur Rös!” clickbait things.
My understanding of it is that Paulstretch doesn’t exactly slow down the song, but chops it up into small pieces, then wraps those small pieces up with a shitload of reverb and smart tail measurement/envelope. This allows for the length of the song to be increased considerably, keeping the pitch intact. It also means, for example, that a simple snare hit is stretched out across several seconds, which makes it sound like a giant wave crashing down on the rest of the instruments. The vocals sound like barely comprehensible gibberish in an echo chamber. Guitars, keyboards and other instruments dissolve into a wave of harmonics and swirly, splashy sounds. You run just about any song through Paulstretch and the end result will likely be a soothing, lush ambient track.
“Rock Lobster”, though, reveals something far more sinister. The songs signature surf-rock riff becomes ominous and menacing, Fred Schneider’s sprechgesang become the ramblings of a mad man, or a cult leader. The first couple minutes are normal enough, but by the time we hear the Farfisa organ creeping in– or its malformed, stretched-out version– it becomes something much more unsettling, bringing you deeper into the world of madness of this song. By the time you’ve reached Kate Pierson’s guttural animal noises, it sounds like a fairly accurate aural representation of hell– shrieking, howling, deranged, dissonant; the frenzied wails of things that should have stayed dead.
It’s also an hour long. Give it a shot.
Happy Halloween, folks!