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the hard part is performing the dance moves this slowly
July 27, 2012 11:08 AM   Subscribe

Now That's What I Call Drone: Vol. 1 - Drone ambient versions of top 40 pop songs. [via mefi projects]

The whole album is available for free / Pay What You Want. You don't even have to surrender your email address. Or just stream it online.

Tracklisting:
1. Gordon Withers x Rihanna - We Found Love
2. Stringbot x Kelly Clarkson - Stronger (Still)
3. Bishonen Knife x Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe
4. Anaphylaxis x Katy Perry - The One That Got Away (Parallel Universe Remix)
5. Patrick Cosmos x Nicki Minaj - Starships
6. Cinchel x Ke$ha - TiK ToK
7. Jon Monteverde x Lady Antebellum - Need You Now
8. Le Berger x Bruno Mars - It Will Rain (Up On High Remix)
9. Tape x LMFAO - Party Rock Anthem (Fractal Zoom Dronemix)
10. Ben Barrett x One Direction - What Makes You Beautiful
11. Biley Cyrus x Adele - Rolling in the Deep
12. Vapor Lanes x Justin Bieber - Boyfriend
posted by Theta States (42 comments total) 65 users marked this as a favorite

 
9. Tape x LMFAO - Party Rock Anthem (Fractal Zoom Dronemix)

"Drone better."
posted by The Whelk at 11:09 AM on July 27, 2012


Oh I can't wait to listen to this!

Also, from the project page:

"Yeah, I strongly discouraged timestretching. To my ears, only 1 or 2 tracks use it, but in unusual ways (i.e., there's more happening than just running a track through an algorithm.)"
posted by griphus at 11:10 AM on July 27, 2012


Hey, isn't there an open Mefi thread on drone attacks?
posted by yoink at 11:13 AM on July 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


I bought this the other day. I've been enjoying it, but then Vapor Lanes gets pretty heavy rotation on my playlists. My girlfriend hates it, but I like it. I spend a lot of my music listening time alone.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:13 AM on July 27, 2012


I am so happy that this exists.
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:15 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, Vapor Lanes, when do you start selling your fans t-shirts?
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:16 AM on July 27, 2012


eeeeppooooooonnnnnnnneestyrrrriiiicallllllll

Woah, these sound good on a Friday afternoon!
posted by obscurator at 11:31 AM on July 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


@cjorgensen: "but then Vapor Lanes gets pretty heavy rotation on my playlists"

Who are Vapor Lanes? What.cd is turning up pretty much nothing for them. Do tell!
posted by rossmeissl at 11:34 AM on July 27, 2012


eeeeppooooooonnnnnnnneestyrrrriiiicallllllll

That's how I roll, REM brain waves outtttaaaa coooonnnnttttrrrrroooooollllll. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
posted by Theta States at 11:37 AM on July 27, 2012


So I listened to both the "Call Me Maybe" and "Party Rock Anthem" tracks, and maybe I'm missing the point but I'm not really sure what's gained by even calling them remixes or versions of those songs. Neither one is recognizably related to the original in any way.
posted by asterix at 11:54 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can you state your problem with this more clearly? That sounded like a compliment.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:01 PM on July 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


"what's gained by even calling them remixes or versions of those songs. Neither one is recognizably related to the original in any way."

well i think we tried to retain some essence of the track. a melody line. a hook. ultimately it was an art project with defined limitations. maybe even a criticism or statement on the over indulgence of Top40 pop music. take from it what you will.

at least in my case i found the part of the song that really stuck in my head. in some way my track is what i hear in my head when i listen to "Tik-Tok". The hook just loops over and over tickling my brain in all the right ways. so my drone tried to pay homage to that feeling
posted by cinchel at 12:05 PM on July 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wow. That's impressive. If I didn't know beforehand, I would have mistaken that Kelly Clarkson track for a new Windy & Carl song.

That's something I didn't think I'd ever write.
posted by mcmile at 12:08 PM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's a spirited discussion of this thread occuring on twitter right now. Hi tweeters! Come on in the waters fine.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:11 PM on July 27, 2012


There's a spirited discussion of this thread occuring on twitter right now. Hi tweeters! Come on in the waters fine.

Hashtag #dronefight?
posted by Theta States at 12:12 PM on July 27, 2012


Neither one is recognizably related to the original in any way.

Well, there's a difference between "I'm not recognizing the relation" and "they are not related", is the main thing. Which is fine! Different people dig on different kinds of music, and heavy manipulation is sort of its own esoteric thing that may take some getting used to to follow.

But there's a long fun weird tradition of that sort of obfuscated resynthesis of music, that's in part all about finding ways to really aggressively dissociate the surface features of the music from some retained core; to, basically, make it as different in one way or another while you can while still working with some core of the original. It can make for a real close-listening exercise sometimes, but that's part of he appeal for me at lesat, those "a ha!" moments when something pops out and the connection becomes clear.
posted by cortex at 12:17 PM on July 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thanks for the feedback! It's been fun watching the different reactions as this spreads. The Atlantic seems to think it's all just a joke, but I think that only gets us halfway there. It's a joke that we ran with until it metastasized into an art project.

Everyone took the challenge seriously, to my knowledge, teasing out the different questions and concepts of the whole thing. What is drone, what is pop music, how do you remix something if you're removing all semblance of melody and rhythm? What do these songs mean to us on an extra-musical level, and why do we keep coming back to them? There's a tension here that comes across in interesting and different ways with each track.

It's also kind of fun to listen carefully and spot points where the original comes in. Take the "Call Me Maybe" track, for example; on my second or third listen I spotted Carly Rae Jepsen's vocal hook ambling through all uncertain-sounding, and now I think of this version as sort of a buildup to the confidence and boldness of the song - it's that millisecond moment before she asks for the guy's number, where there's this hesitation. The song exposes that hidden vulnerability and makes me think of the original in an entirely new way.
posted by naju at 12:17 PM on July 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


Drone music, sorta
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:18 PM on July 27, 2012


Mostly humorously encapsulated by this type of sentiment:

"can't wait for The Atlantic piece "Which Is More Eminently Skippable: Drone or Racist Powerviolence?" "

Which I know cuz one of my favorite tweeters is on this comp. Here's more of his stuff.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:18 PM on July 27, 2012


It'll still work if I've never heard of the originals, right?
posted by box at 12:18 PM on July 27, 2012


it's that millisecond moment before she asks for the guy's number

Or volunteers her number, rather!
posted by naju at 12:19 PM on July 27, 2012


Who are Vapor Lanes?

Vapor Lanes is naju's music project/band. I downloaded the free EP which sent me on a hunt at bandcamp or soundcloud or someplace where I got a couple other discs. It's heavy discordant noise. Mostly ambient and unsettling sound sculptures. I generally don't like that sort of stuff, but for some reason I love this. It might be because I could actually imagine myself making music like it, but the beauty is I don't have to since naju does it for me.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:29 PM on July 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


This just made my entire day, and possibly longer. So good. Thanks naju, cinchel, and Theta States!
posted by like a sunday in t.j. at 12:31 PM on July 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


So I listened to both the "Call Me Maybe" and "Party Rock Anthem" tracks, and maybe I'm missing the point but I'm not really sure what's gained by even calling them remixes or versions of those songs. Neither one is recognizably related to the original in any way.

I can't speak for anyone else on the compilation — although I suspect the following applies to most or all of them as well — but, speaking as its composer and performer, the interpolation of "Call Me Maybe" is indeed a direct descendant of the original, even if that's not immediately apparent. (Turn back now if you don't care about song guts!)

The timestretched vocal track is Jepsen's; I found an "a capella track" someone made by extracting the vocal EQ band from the full track, cut it up into phrases, and did some sloppy math to stretch them to fit the new tempo. (I also tried singing it myself through an EHX Voice Box, a'la Prince's Camille, but it didn't sound nearly as good.) Both the tremolo synth pad and the bass arpeggiation play "Call Me Maybe"'s chord progression, which is G/Em/C/D throughout. I thought about replicating the original's unfuckwithable disco strings, but substituting the descending synth wash in its place felt more natural; ultimately, I was beholden to composing a functional piece of drone music rather than a pop song with a funny hat on.

Whether my interpretation of "Call Me Maybe" resembles its parent is, of course, a matter of subjectivity best left to the listener, and I hope I'm not coming across as a fussy art-damaged overexplainer. But sketching out and constructing the relationship between the two tracks was what made my participation in this project so much fun — I knocked it out in a weekend, which is an order of magnitude faster than I ever finish recording anything — and so maybe learning a little bit about that process will make it more interesting for others.

(And Potomac Avenue, you are too kind.)
posted by milk at 12:33 PM on July 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


It'll still work if I've never heard of the originals, right?

Will the demon egg take seed in your mind's belly you mean? Yes the hypno-metamorphosis can still take place. Expect to see dark wings sprouts after 2 weeks, full scales at 6. Keep on truckin, and may God have mercy on your soul.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:33 PM on July 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I find these to be louder, blander, with less variety in terms of chords and melodies.
posted by Kabanos at 12:36 PM on July 27, 2012


Oh what up dry_hugs. Totally forgot we talked about metafilter when we met at that reading a few weeks back because I was drunk.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:36 PM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks for making, and for sharing.
posted by bobobox at 12:50 PM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I haven't heard most of the originals. The few I did know, I couldn't have identified from the remixes. But that's fine! I am down with the whole "remix into oblivion" thing. Maybe when I'm done with this I'll listen to Pentamerous Metamorphosis, or maybe The Auteurs vs. μ-Ziq.
posted by aubilenon at 12:55 PM on July 27, 2012


I like this. I haven't heard any of the originals, but these sound great.
posted by freakazoid at 1:02 PM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


It sounds like they took the original pop music and tortured it almost to death before launching it into space.

Thanks for introducing me to it!
posted by orme at 1:10 PM on July 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


Being involved in this compilation was a pretty fun experience. It was fun enough at the very beginning when several of us were just passing around fake remix names between ourselves on twitter - things like "Call Me Maybe (Stars of the Lid remix)" and whatnot. I remember at one point early on, before the idea to actually create something of our own was even spoken, I decided just for the fun of it to run "Party Rock Anthem" through a timestretcher just because I was curious.

Later on, the seed sprouted about actually maybe turning this silly idea from which we were getting some good laughs into an actual project. I called dibs on "Party Rock Anthem", because it seemed like the most interesting statement to me to take a fast, upbeat dance number - one that was in fact called "Party Rock Anthem" - and make it into something that would be the complete opposite of that.

I started by trying some things out with synths and guitars, playing off the chords of the original, but after a couple of hours I hadn't come up with an idea that really latched with me. I took a break and while off doing something else I remembered that timestretched track I had made earlier. I hesitated for a minute because I didn't want to be the guy who went "haha I ran Party Rock Anthem through a timestretcher lol isn't that funny", but then I thought, well, wait a minute. What if I take that idea and really play off it really far. I remember when the time stretching meme first started, people were slowing down tracks 8x, 10x. I said, ok, that's fine, but at those speeds, the rhythms and harmonies, even melodies to a lesser extent, are still reasonably clear. What I really wanted was the complete obliteration of those aspects.

I also knew that merely timestretching the song was really just a technical exercise - anyone can input the song, select a stretch factor, and get an output file. I wanted to take that and use it as a seed for generating other sounds, which is something that I've picked up from a friend of mine who's been doing some cool analog synth drone performances in the last couple of years. I figured, if the stuff he's doing involves taking basically just a few generated synth tones and manipulating them to create something new, why not do that but replace synthesized tones with the "Party Rock Anthem" source material? And so that's where I began, combining ideas gleaned from my friend's performances with the source material timestretched to very extreme lengths - 30x, 50x, 100x, etc.

What you end up hearing is a combination of five or six different stretched versions of the original, all feeding noise, synth and effect generators of various types. I tried to get a good mix of sounds completely unrecognizable as the original (the higher-pitched sounds that are the last thing heard as the track fades out, for example) and also mix in a little bit of something - though not too much - that did have some of the "timestretched sound". I'd say that I did that for some conceptual artistic purpose, but ultimately I just thought it sounded a little better with it in there. As my composition of these sounds progressed, I began to formulate a visual landscape of what the sounds represented to me, which was sort of a science fiction ice storm on a distant planet kind of thing (think where Captain Kirk meets Spock in the recent Star Trek reboot film, maybe), with the end of the track sort of like finding a massive sheltered, crystalline cave where one could seek refuge, with dripping water echoing through the huge reflective space, and I sought to create sounds that inspired further aspects of this visualization.

So, indeed, the whole project started from some folks making some jokes, and indeed my own track began as a joke before I decided to reflect upon that and take my initial non-serious idea and see if I could make something more serious out of it - sort of a microcosm of the entire compilation.

Sorry that was a little long-winded, but I really liked my co-contributors' explanations of their creative process and wanted to share mine, and I guess it got a little out of hand. :)
posted by tape_ at 1:13 PM on July 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


@cjorgensen: thanks!
posted by rossmeissl at 1:30 PM on July 27, 2012


This is cool.
posted by Rock Steady at 3:32 PM on July 27, 2012


this is pretty good.
posted by molecicco at 5:07 PM on July 27, 2012


Well, there's a difference between "I'm not recognizing the relation" and "they are not related", is the main thing.

Oh sure! (And I meant the former, not the latter.)

Which is fine! Different people dig on different kinds of music, and heavy manipulation is sort of its own esoteric thing that may take some getting used to to follow.

I also should have said, these seem great taken on their own terms. I just don't get that moment of recognition that seems key to a remix for me. It's kind of like the "whooooooooooomp" sound from the "Inception" trailer: yes, after someone put a video on YouTube I realize that it's Edith Piaf slowed down tremendously. But if I can't recognize it without the manipulation being reversed, is that really meaningful?
posted by asterix at 5:18 PM on July 27, 2012


And milk, thanks for the explanation! I didn't mean for my comment to seem as negative as it did, and hearing about the creative process is always interesting.
posted by asterix at 5:28 PM on July 27, 2012


I'm three tracks in and really enjoying this. SO glad they don't sound like the originals.
posted by evilDoug at 5:36 PM on July 27, 2012


In a similar vein, here's Oneohtrix Point Never's lovely cover of 1959's I Only Have Eyes For You.
posted by Rinku at 11:08 PM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love this!
It's very much in the spirit of Friends of Friends' Pop Massacre Compilations (volumes 1 and 2 are also free on bandcamp), though the songs are far less distinguishable in drone form than they are in abstract electronic form.

Thanks for making this joke a reality!
posted by sleeping bear at 12:12 AM on July 28, 2012


In this vein, I'm considering turning Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody into a song that isn't terrible. It's going to take a lot of work.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:43 AM on July 29, 2012


My God, I've found myself inside a Matt Howarth comic book. Where are the Post bros?

(Seriously, thanks for the discussion and questions. I'm listening to the LMFAO drone and wondering what all this is about.)
posted by Bill Peschel at 10:16 AM on July 30, 2012


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