You (Are Going To) Smile

Posted in Ambient, Art Music, Pop by jurbanik on August 18, 2010

Just a quick one today, folks.

Up until now, pretty much all of malleus&incus has been devoted to informing you about good music. For this post, though, I’m going to get a little silly – In fact I’m going to make a bit of a game of it. These songs are versions of songs that were with a program called PaulStretch, and your job is to identify what they actually are. There are a few rules: don’t cheat by looking at the soundcloud pages, and don’t scroll down and read what the originals are until you’ve listened to at least a few minutes of each track. There is a decent chance some of you may have seen these tracks online by this point – they’ve gone viral in the past couple of days.

Before we start, a little about PaulStretch. It is a program that was originally intended to slow tracks down or speed up tracks 50x or more to create audio textures. It uses several processes like spectral smoothing to take short ‘windows’ of music and stretch them , maintaining the qualities of the original song but essentially vectorizing and stretching the real audio.

However, some people have begun to use the program for other purposes – namely stretching audio 6-10x, usually resulting in something that sounds like a track by the bastard child of an artist like Dead Can Dance, Sigur Rós or M83 and a drone band like Sun O))). That said, quite a few of the tracks are pretty mesmerizing – a mix of droning instruments with waves and whale sounds and unintelligible, otherworldly vocals thrown in an ethereal stew. These soundscapes do end up being 30+ minutes, so I don’t expect you to listen to them all the way through. And because they’re so long, I’ll refrain from uploading them (they’re 30+ mb), and just embed the soundcloud pages.

Track 1// Shamantis (soundcloud)

By far the most well-known of this emergent ‘genre’ of music, Shamantis’ track has gotten publicity all over the internet. The sound of waves crashing and the gently singing guitars blend beautifully with the high-pitched voice that dominates the track. The track could easily be paired with footage from The Titanic or some other tragedy – I wouldn’t doubt that it would bring some to tears if that someone did.

Track 2// nikkif00 (soundcloud)

This track seems to have a backing track of soft synths and the occasional rain stick than waves or whales, but is even more relaxing for it. I could see a massage therapist using it as a mood track, if it weren’t for the string parts – they tend to give me the chills. I found this track via a subreddit called slow it up (don’t check this link until later).

Track 3// MadDefHerb (soundcloud)

The only one of these tracks with particularly snippets of understandable words, a female vocalist chants the mantra “Everybody needs a …” and then fades off to leave what is so needed up to imagination. There is a mix of synth strings, waves, and various other instruments in the background. Overall, one of the more listenable songs of this type – it is almost worth listening all the way through.

Track 4// unsignedhypenl (soundcloud)

With more baritone vocals, and more sparse instrumentals, this one evokes some sort of unsettling feeling. In some ways, the intro makes me thing of some sort of cultish chant echoing down a dark hallway. That said, this track has a little more development than the others – it is different in each section, with some sections featuring symphonic instrumentals that do absolutely nothing to settle the nerves.

That brings our little game to a close – if you can guess any of these correctly, I’ll be surprised. Hopefully you didn’t look down past this picture before listening!

Track 1: U Smile// Justin Bieber

Track 2: Every Time// Britney Spears

Track 3: When I Last Saw You// Miley Cyrus

Track 4: It Was A Very Good Year// Frank Sinatra

I’ll just go ahead and reserve my opinions on these tracks except to comment on how odd it is to hear one of music’s most romantic men (Sinatra) sound so creepy. Hopefully you got a laugh or a shock from this. Also, if you’re wondering where the tags are… I figured I’d keep them clean so I don’t ruin the surprise.


One Response

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  1. Sam said, on August 19, 2010 at 2:21 am

    Someone should do it for a Sunn O))) song. 5 hour superdrone epics.

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