Manipulating The Medium

Fun with unintended record speeds:

The day I bought Frank Zappa’s “Joe’s Garage Parts 2 & 3″ I listened to the first three sides at 45 RPM before I realized I had it on the wrong speed. For forty minutes, I thought Zappa had gone crazy and released an entire two-record set in his patented Munchkin style (it could happen!) The guitar solos were amazing. Since that initial experience, I’ve never liked the album at 33 1/3.

4 Responses to “Manipulating The Medium”

  1. Birdman! says:

    I first got the Black Sabbath album “Sabotage” around the time when there was minor hysteria over the idea that “Stairway to Heaven” backward says “My sweet Satan” or whatever. Anyway…
    On the back of the Sabotage album cover, David Harris is credited as “Tape Operator and saboteur”. Who better than a tape operator to sabotage a heavy metal album with backward Satanic messages? And he is credited as “Saboteur”! And the album cover with the band standing in front of and behind a giant mirror? Also, to my ears, this is the most evil of Black Sabbath albums; I accept that this point is arguable. Surely they had intended that this album be listened to from end to beginning, backward.
    Eager to hear whatever Satanic wisdom that Black Sabbath might dispense to fans willing to listen to the album thus, I recorded the whole album on tracks 3 & 4 on Tascam 4 track cassette recorder so I could listen to it in reverse on an ordinary cassette player. This way, the album starts with “Blow on a Jug”, a barely audible blip at the tail end of the B side of some pressings of the vinyl. Already, forward, the song sounded like a playful jig for the Prince of Darkness that devotees might sing at the end of an exhausting, transformative Black Mass/Demonic Orgy, but to hear it as the opening track to a mirror-dimension album of pure evil, right before the backward “The Writ” — it was some pretty heavy stuff. Also, this way, the album ends with Ozzy’s reversed chicken squawk. What could it possibly mean? That I was not “chicken” — afraid to listen to Sabbath’s cthonic wisdom?
    There was no backward masking that I could ever hear. Still, listening to “Sabotage” backward is rewarding. I think of it as “E Gato Bas”, Sab’s real sixth album of eerie soundscapes and vocalise/incantation. It compares favorably to John Zorn’s “IAO”

  2. SOFA - Philostopher/Chef says:

    I once listened to Revolution #9 backwards…
    Aside from the distinct “Turn me on, dead man” replacing the “number nine”, there was very little difference between forward and backward….
    I’ve listened to the ‘backwards masking’ examples out there -Stairway, etc. I guess you hear what you want.
    My point – as was Frank’s, I believe – is that you have to be a pure genius to arrange something in the immediate audio realm backwards of what you actually hear, that makes any sense in the reverse… We’re talking Da Vinci here.
    Most of the time, it’s simply accidental – and something only the idle rich can afford to construct and ponder (or the idle Christian; they’re far more dangerous).
    I bet Sabotage (my fav BS recording) sounds way cool backwards… By accident, not by design.
    On a related note, the 45 of Dolly Parton’s “Here You Come Again” played at 33RPM, sounds amazingly like the Atlanta Rhythm Section circa 1978.
    Of course, I wouldn’t dream of asking (or tempting) anyone to back me up on this…

  3. Frunobulax says:

    I have both Stairway and Revolution #9 backwards as sound files on my shitty little PC here.
    I’m a complete backmask fool, though, and will reverse any track I get my hands on if I think it will sound interesting, can be worked into an electronic piece of mine, or if it’s a song I love. I have also found out that if you raise any song by 3 keys (the magic FZ WOIIFTM Number), things sound a lot better.

  4. jim says:

    Am actually old enough 2 remember taking everything from 45s of Disney-cack 2 Crowbar or Alice Cooper LPs – & playing them at SIXTEEN rpm: truly delightful fun 4 me & my friend Kevin … back when i was seven … doo wah doo wahhh-oooh.
    20th Century Hijinx!