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Kid 17
August 27, 2007 6:31 PM   Subscribe

What happens when you play two separate copies of Radiohead's "Kid A" exactly 17 seconds apart? According to some, it produces some amazing synchronization effects. Although some fans claim to have heard Thom Yorke say it was intentional, "Whether or not it was intentional to me seems beyond the point. Fact of the matter is that it actually 'kind of' works." If that doesn't float your boat, you can always just sync it up with The Matrix.
posted by jbickers (75 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
What happens when you play two separate copies of Radiohead's "Kid A" exactly 17 seconds apart?

a disembodied voice says 'you have too much free time?'
posted by jonmc at 6:33 PM on August 27, 2007 [5 favorites]


Pink Floyd synchronization effects:

Dark Side of the Rainbow (Dark Side of the Moon + Wizard of Oz) and Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite (Echoes + 2001: A Space Odyssey)
posted by Poolio at 6:38 PM on August 27, 2007


None of those mp3 links work.

Which kind of sucks.
posted by Kickstart70 at 6:39 PM on August 27, 2007


I'm on it.
posted by BeerFilter at 6:48 PM on August 27, 2007


Fitter. Happier. Suckier.
posted by hal9k at 6:50 PM on August 27, 2007


I prefer pot. It's easier, and I can listen to something other than Radiohead, while still getting the same amazing effects. Not that I don't like Radiohead.
posted by ninjew at 6:52 PM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh my god! Melody and harmony are related to each other! Holy shit!
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:53 PM on August 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


"What happens when you play two separate copies of Radiohead's "Kid A" exactly 17 seconds apart?"

It sucks twice as much, but slightly out of phase?

Seriously, Radiohead going experimental was probably the worst thing in music since U2 went experimental.
posted by Eideteker at 6:55 PM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Seriously, Radiohead going experimental was probably the worst thing in music since U2 went experimental.
posted by mek at 6:56 PM on August 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


Your favorite band sucks.

                 Your favorite band sucks.

Damn the marquee tag being disabled.
posted by Eideteker at 6:56 PM on August 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


Seriously, Radiohead?
posted by humannaire at 6:57 PM on August 27, 2007


It would be really nice if, for once, Radiohead fans shut the hell up about Radiohead.
posted by item at 7:03 PM on August 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


This was a Wikipedia rumor that has since been deleted. Also, I've read just about every published interview with and article/book about the band and this hasn't been mentioned. But, to quote Radiohead, "I might be wrong."
posted by josephtate at 7:05 PM on August 27, 2007


So... the cool kids don't like Radiohead anymore? I just can't keep up.

Also: It's Gonna Rain.
posted by gwint at 7:07 PM on August 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


Er. I like it. I like Dark Side of the Rainbow too.

Not for some deep hidden intent, but, as above, visually, lyrically, even thematically humans are good at inferring rhythm.

This also reminded me I never ripped Kid A. It's actually my favorite Radiohead album.
posted by abulafa at 7:08 PM on August 27, 2007


Is this Radiohead something I would need the internet to know about?
posted by Mach3avelli at 7:13 PM on August 27, 2007


I'm no big Radiohead fan, got nothing against them, but I think possible "easter eggs" like this are interesting. I don't have this album, and the links given don't seem to work. I think my neighbor has this CD though. I'll report back as soon as I've had a chance to check it out.
posted by BeerFilter at 7:17 PM on August 27, 2007


Yo we can all agree that Radiohead is really annoying and boring but a popular band intending for their popular record to sound good when two copies of it are played 17 seconds apart is kind of cool, and I'm at least interested in hearing what it sounds like.
posted by Shakeer at 7:18 PM on August 27, 2007


Has anyone ever actually heard the Flaming Lips album where you have to play 4 disks simultaneously in 4 separate players? Seems more interesting to me than playing Radiohead twice.

I only bought The Bends after Steven Wilson name-checked it in a Porcupine Tree song, but I kinda liked it. I don't get the fervency, but they're really a pretty interesting band, and I'd sooner listen to Radiohead that 999/1000 "songs" that are played daily on what passes for radio, so I guess I don't get the hate, either.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:19 PM on August 27, 2007


HOLY SHIT, IT WORKS
posted by Greg Nog at 7:23 PM on August 27, 2007 [3 favorites]



Seriously, Radiohead going experimental was probably the worst thing in music since U2 went experimental.


I agree. If there's one thing we need more of, it's bands that are unwilling to try anything new.
posted by TrialByMedia at 7:24 PM on August 27, 2007 [10 favorites]


Trip report:

I tried it with "Everything In Its Right Place", and it vaguely sync'd up. The "everything" from one track flows into the "in its right place" from the other, kinda. Although any song based on atmospheric loops like this may be able to repeat this to some degree. Basically it just sounds like the live version.
posted by Adam_S at 7:24 PM on August 27, 2007


The link at this blog worked for me. You have to click through some download site and you get a RAR file. Still waiting for it to finish....
posted by timelord at 7:24 PM on August 27, 2007


Ok, I got about halfway through -- most of the time is was pretty listenable but when it wasn't it just sounded like a long delay -- no synchronicity that is.

I still like Radiohead though, so take that scurillous snarkful interwebs.
posted by abulafa at 7:27 PM on August 27, 2007


Has anyone ever actually heard the Flaming Lips album where you have to play 4 disks simultaneously in 4 separate players?

Yeah, I have it. It's got some pretty good songs, but I've only been able to listen to it a few times because I just don't have that many CD players. I really want to hear the Parking Lot Experiments that that did, where they'd gather a bunch of cars in a parking lot and give them all tapes with different parts to play really loud through the car speakers.
posted by fishmasta at 7:29 PM on August 27, 2007


Devils Rancher: Zaireeka. At the proper volume, it is truly one of the most amazing listening experiences you'll ever have.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 7:31 PM on August 27, 2007


I'm listening to it now, synced up by hand, and I have to say I like it quite a bit. It should probably be noted that I'm the kind of person that might like it if you did this to any given rock track, though.

I'm pretty sure a music theory nerd could posit an explanation for this coincidence having to do with radiohead using similar song structures throughout the album.
posted by tsmo at 7:32 PM on August 27, 2007


I'm really, really curious to hear this but don't have a copy of Kid A handy and can't get any of the download links I've found to work. If anyone feels like sending the results of their experiments my way, email's in profile. Thanks!
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 7:36 PM on August 27, 2007


(And yes, if someone told me jumping off a bridge while playing Flight of the Valkyries would result in an awesome Synchronized Suicide Megamix I'd do that too...)
posted by abulafa at 7:38 PM on August 27, 2007


At the proper volume, it is truly one of the most amazing listening experiences you'll ever have.

It does sound like fun -- though one of the CDs would have to be played on my tinny Powerbook speakers. I might actually buy it and mix it to stereo in Logic, though -- I'm quite smitten with the Lips.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:38 PM on August 27, 2007


Is this something I would need to own a TV marijuana to understand?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:42 PM on August 27, 2007


So has anyone heard the Flaming Lips album that Devils Rancher linked above? I know Wayne Coyne used to gather people together in parking garages and pass out cassettes that he had made of different insect sounds, and when he gave the signal, everyone would play the tapes at the same time. I read about it in a magazine, not on the internet and I can't seem to find a reference anywhere. There was more to it than just playing the tapes, but I can't remember the details.

And if I was Thom Yorke, I would say that the synchronization effects were intentional until I was on my deathbed.
posted by Sailormom at 7:43 PM on August 27, 2007


Speaking of musical easter eggs, check out the face embedded in Aphex Twin's Windowlicker
posted by hupp at 7:44 PM on August 27, 2007


A few years ago, they had an installation at MoMA that was 40 speakers arranged in an oval, each one playing a different voice of a choir. It was trippy. Imagine that with something a little more modern.
posted by smackfu at 7:52 PM on August 27, 2007


See Nickelback - How You Remind Me of Someday.
posted by niles at 7:54 PM on August 27, 2007


No no no! Don't just mix it down. You'd be doing it all wrong! One of the beauties of the thing is that listening to it is a social event by nature: you have to get three pals and three decent CD players together. And you all have to press play at the exact same time--or rather, you all have to press play at sightly different times, since all CD players play at slightly different speeds.

It's low-tech and silly, and you have to do it every couple of songs (or every song, depending on how picky you're going to be). But there's that "ha-HA!" feeling when you get it right, and then you get to enjoy some seriously mind-bending stuff. They pull every sonic trick they could think of employing four CDs made to be heard on eight speakers .

By the way, I'm not a Flaming Lips fan. And typing this has made me want to get another Zaireeka party asap.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 7:56 PM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


link that actually loads the song
posted by niles at 7:56 PM on August 27, 2007


Has anyone ever actually heard the Flaming Lips album where you have to play 4 disks simultaneously in 4 separate players?

I have and highly recommend it. There are several stereo mixes available out there on the interwebs, but do yourself a favor and buy or download the 4-disc set. The experience is truly one of a kind. It's like entering an entirely different world.

It does sound like fun -- though one of the CDs would have to be played on my tinny Powerbook speakers.

Don't let that stop you. I used an iBook, an alarm clock, a home stereo and a PC and the changes in speaker types added an interesting dynamic. Even with 2-3 discs, it's a magical experience. Each time you listen, it will be different. Make sure you share the experience with at least another person!
posted by fatbobsmith at 7:57 PM on August 27, 2007


I think this one best exemplifies how well this synchronization works.
posted by pokermonk at 8:06 PM on August 27, 2007 [11 favorites]


Congratulations, you've discovered 'delay'.

You're on your way to become a record producer.
posted by empath at 8:08 PM on August 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


So I listened. I guess they sync up insofar as most of the electronics are probably on a 17 second loop and they can be overlapped somewhat cleanly. No shit that's intentional. You could probably do this with any repetitive song, but it "works" here because Radiohead sounds "glitchy" enough that whatever doesn't match up fits the music okay, or makes it sound "trippier". Only listen this if you're crazy about the album and want to hear a slight remix of it.

What is noteworthy perhaps is that every song on the album can be made to sync up on itself with the same amount of delay. Well, I didn't listen to every song but I'm assuming that's the case.
posted by Shakeer at 8:09 PM on August 27, 2007


Oh, the rare DOUBLE RICKROLL.

Hats off to you, sir.
posted by empath at 8:09 PM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Pokermonk, that's an awesome, but it seems like the song was specifically engineered to work with the delay/sync. I'll let some other MeFites weigh in, though.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 8:11 PM on August 27, 2007


Tool put a hidden song on 10,000 Days (previously?)
posted by LordSludge at 8:18 PM on August 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


What happens when you mix A with B?

Now, YOU pet the bunny.

I love mixed media. Even incestuous self-referential media.

I have to say, though - when you take an artist's work and do a moiré of their work that they hadn't intended[1], it's...interesting...not sure it's meaningful.

Maybe I'm wrong, maybe the point of the FPP is about the fascinating patterns that emerge from moiré-style blending, and not some specific brilliant foresight thingy.

::time passes::

Ok, I just played a Beatles song (nevermind which one) with two media players simultaneously with a 12 second lag. WOW. That was, honestly, very interesting. huh.

English guitarist Steve Hillage is a pro at long delay repeat canons. I wonder if there's artists who also capitalize on this effect, but on larger scales. Like Anthony Braxton composing for a Digital Delay with a 20 minute cycle or something. Or 20 years, you know how Braxton is. I'm making that up, but I'd believe it.

[1] OR DID THEY
posted by sidereal at 8:20 PM on August 27, 2007


Get offa my lawn with your audio synchronisers, Damn kids.
posted by Balisong at 8:51 PM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was so there six years ago when some kid on the Hollywood & Vine Radiohead forum announced this to the world.
posted by kowalski at 9:01 PM on August 27, 2007


The big indie theatre festival here in Calgary (High Performance Rodeo) has closed with a Zaireeka listening party the last few years. I've been twice. Everyone sort of shuffles around in a grooving circle proscribed by the four stereos set up in each corner of the theatre floor. As you move around the room, the song you're listening to fundamentally changes, which means of course that you could listen to Zaireeka a hundred times and never be sure you heard it "properly," which is part of the point.

Also, you're sort of shuffling/grooving/acting as a group of (in this case) maybe a hundred, which is an even bigger part of the point. The Lips have created a piece of recorded music that compels the creation of an atmosphere approximating a performance-art happening or some kind of esoteric revival meeting or something. No easy feat, and a rare and wonderful thing in my experience.
posted by gompa at 9:30 PM on August 27, 2007


My kindergarten school teacher was a genius. She invented this before Radiohead.
posted by jouke at 10:16 PM on August 27, 2007


I think I just found nirvana.
posted by neckro23 at 10:20 PM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh... I could go for a wall of monitors of this.
posted by deCadmus at 10:44 PM on August 27, 2007


row row row your boat gently down the stream merrily merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream
                      row row row your boat gently down the stream merrily merrily merrily merrily
                                            row row row your boat gently down the stream
                                                                  row row row your boat

posted by thecaddy at 11:01 PM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have nothing to add except that it's doubtful it was intentional (I can't claim to have read as much about RH as josephtate, but I've read a lot) and also that I, erm, really passionately adore to extremes like Kid A and think it's good and stuff.
posted by jokeefe at 11:07 PM on August 27, 2007


There's a lot of echo and delay on that album. Not surprising.
posted by bardic at 11:23 PM on August 27, 2007


Oh, the rare DOUBLE RICKROLL.

People are still fucking doing that? Banhammer with extreme prejudice would be my response. Good thing I don't one.

Tangentially on-topic, I downloaded this a while back but still haven't gotten around to watch it: At War With Baraka, apparently a synch-up of the movie Baraka with the Flaming Lips' At War With The Mystics.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:54 PM on August 27, 2007


since all CD players play at slightly different speeds.

To the very best of my knowledge, all CD players play at exactly the same speed, reading 2 simultaneous tracks containing precisely 44,100 16-bit samples per second.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:59 PM on August 27, 2007


Very cool.

I also have found a cool synchronization effect when I play Madonna's "Open Your Heart" video and -- 34 seconds in -- begin masturbating.
posted by flarbuse at 12:26 AM on August 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yeah, l_y, that was my first thought - then I realised that he probably means unless you use 4 identical players, they'll all take slightly different times to react to the play button.

(and notwithstanding slight variations and drift in the PLL clock source between machines)
If that doesn't float your boat, you can always just sync it up with The Matrix.
How stoned do you have to be to come up with these anyway? Imagine going through all the permutations until you hit one ...

'"Little Creatures" & "Citizen Kane"? Nah...'
'"Jagged Little Pill" & "Amelie"? Nah...'
'"Dark Side Of The Moon" & "The Spongebob Squarepants Movie"? Nah...'
posted by Pinback at 12:41 AM on August 28, 2007


Alfred Schnittke^ wrote a truly haunting piece: the Prelude in Memoriam Dmitri Schostakovitch, which used a solo violin and an analog tape recording of the same violin. The intrinsic variability of analog tape playback gave rise to very subtle and effective beats and disharmonies between the two instruments.

Yes, I confess I've played two recordings of it quasi-simultaneously on two recorders, producing 4 slightly mis-tuned violins, and I enjoyed it, but I think perhaps that was one of those personal pleasures.
posted by fcummins at 12:42 AM on August 28, 2007


I've listened to a copy of this... It was... interesting? I had nothing better to do with my ears, and listened while doing other stuff.

It kinda floats in and out of sync. My favorite bits were around the points where it would float into sync. A lot of the song transitions don't quite work well enough for me to think this is intentional at all.

Some of them do. But that's just luck.

It's all just luck.

Unless you're Thom Yorke.
posted by sparkletone at 1:15 AM on August 28, 2007


I played one copy forward and one copy backward at the same time and got silence. I'm going to do this with ALL my CDs from now on!
posted by Floydd at 1:24 AM on August 28, 2007


To the very best of my knowledge, all CD players play at exactly the same speed

Nope. Every single device that plays back audio plays back at a different speed. Think about it - they're all driven by something that can, and does, vary. CD player motors are driven by A/C - which is notoriously unstable. Clocks in professional audio setups are driven by crystals, which vary just enough to introduce small, horrible amounts of phase differential. If you were to take 4 identical CD players and start them all with a single contact closure, they'd start to show phase differences almost immediately.
posted by god hates math at 5:46 AM on August 28, 2007


Darnit. thecaddy stole my gag....
posted by Doohickie at 6:07 AM on August 28, 2007


You probably haven't heard this, but if you play "Stairway to Heaven" backwards, you'll hear "High School Musical".
posted by Pastabagel at 6:59 AM on August 28, 2007


Hm. I think this works, as was said before, due to the nature of the repeating loops and the glitchyness of the record. Far more interesting to me are intentional synchronizations, like Zaireeka or "The Galilean Satellites" by Rosetta "Galilean Satellites" is a two disc set - one of songs, and one of ambient stuff - that can be played separately or simultaneously. I read a review that described it as "the perfect mix of shoegaze and metal" and was intrigued. I've seen them play a few times here in nyc - they rock.
posted by dubold at 7:07 AM on August 28, 2007


If you play "I Remember Larry" from "Weird Al" Yankovic's album Bad Hair Day backwards, it actually says "Wow, you must really have a lot of free time on your hands."

Also, playing "Nature Trail to Hell" backwards (from 1984's "Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D, of course) reveals a demonic voice chanting "Satan eats Cheez Wiz."

[This is true.]
posted by designbot at 7:29 AM on August 28, 2007


My high school psychology teacher showed us the first 15 minutes of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon synched with the Wizard of Oz. I was unimpressed.

Then he showed us the beginning of Fritz Lang's Metropolis synched to Britney Spears' "...Baby One More Time". I was blown away. When she says, "I'm going down, down, down" a bunch of dudes totally shuffle onto an elevator...AND GO DOWN!

Truly a mind-bending experience in synchronization. If you get high enough, any album will synch with pretty much any movie. You can call that the baphomet theorem.
posted by baphomet at 8:56 AM on August 28, 2007


Speaking of musical easter eggs, check out the face embedded in Aphex Twin's Windowlicker

The linked images are wrong -- they have the wrong visualization scale. When viewed properly, it's clearly an image of Richard D. James.
posted by waldo at 9:19 AM on August 28, 2007


"Every single device that plays back audio plays back at a different speed."

That's bullshit.

I was willing to accept the CD player claim because the Red Book spec, being so old, reads the CD data pretty much just like it was a phonograph needle tracking the spiral on a record—for all I knew, the reading and playing of the samples wasn't time-regulated beyond, as you say, the regulation of the drive mechanism. And maybe this is the case.

But a general principle of everything that plays audio, including digital? Completely false. It's not true of most/all other digital audio standards, for example DVD. It's not true of computer audio production in most/all cases.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:24 AM on August 28, 2007


It surprises me so many people have such pedestrian ears when it comes to Kid A. The album is phenomenal.
posted by four panels at 9:32 AM on August 28, 2007


My favorite band sucks.
posted by hatchetjack at 9:53 AM on August 28, 2007


Yeah it sort of works, but it's more interesting when it's just out of sync, but then again I like Steve Reich. Also Kid A is still one of my favourite albums.
posted by TwoWordReview at 10:35 AM on August 28, 2007


Kid A is probably my 2nd, 3rd or 4th favorite radiohead album (along with OK Computer, Amnesiac, and Hail), yet I have very little interest in hearing it layering on top of itself.

My high school psychology teacher showed us the first 15 minutes of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon synched with the Wizard of Oz. I was unimpressed.

It gets much better than the beginning. You have to play the whole album twice. The *LP* not a CD ...

Then he showed us the beginning of Fritz Lang's Metropolis synched to Britney Spears' "...Baby One More Time". I was blown away. When she says, "I'm going down, down, down" a bunch of dudes totally shuffle onto an elevator...AND GO DOWN!

I call shenanigans.

Does Britney Spears even sing "I'm going down" in "Baby ... One More Time"? I do not think so. Perhaps you are thinking of another favorite Britney tune? Or else you just dreamt up the whole thing.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:56 AM on August 28, 2007


It surprises me so many people have such pedestrian ears when it comes to Kid A. The album is phenomenal.

Yeah, while I tend to think that music, like comedy, is pretty subjective, I find it pretty surprising that so many people don't really seem to get Kid A (and how many people like to rag on Radiohead, for that matter, but I guess everyone's favourite band sucks to someone). Kid A has a transcendent quality that very few albums reach and it's got so much depth and substance that even now, after I've listened to it dozens of times, I still hear something new each time.
posted by biscotti at 4:00 PM on August 28, 2007


Ms. Kwine and I just tried this, and it sounded good throughout except on Optimistic and In Limbo. I love every Radiohead album but Kid A. Chalk me up as someone else who doesn't get it, I guess.
posted by Kwine at 5:29 PM on August 31, 2007


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