70 minutes of heaven
February 28, 2017 9:48 AM   Subscribe

reminds me a bit of Esplendor Geométrico
posted by griphus at 9:56 AM on February 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Very reminiscent of Steve Reich's early tape-based compositions. Phase shifting has pretty cool effects!
posted by hippybear at 10:01 AM on February 28, 2017 [8 favorites]

Why only an hour and ten minutes though?
posted by Keith Talent at 10:02 AM on February 28, 2017 [5 favorites]

I am sitting in a room....
posted by djseafood at 10:05 AM on February 28, 2017 [8 favorites]

I love when it merges back into rhythm at around 7:30.

Anyone know exactly how long the loop is? I'm guessing 3.5 seconds, which means the two other tracks get to 50% and 200% speed after 500 plays, or 1750 seconds, or 29 minutes. But that 3.5 second guess is too inaccurate to be useful.
posted by Nelson at 10:06 AM on February 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Re: Steve Reich, it's not tape manipulation but here's "Drumming".
posted by Lyme Drop at 10:09 AM on February 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

Nelson: what does " two other tracks get to 50% and 200% speed after 500 plays" mean?

one is playing at 99.9%, another at 100%, another at 100.1% which means that they each have a constant speed, and after 1000 repeats of the normal speed loop, the slower one has played 999 times, and the faster one has played 1001 times
posted by idiopath at 10:20 AM on February 28, 2017

Cubiclemate: "What are you listening to? ... Why are you listening to this?"
Me: "Because I can only do ten hours of arctic icebreaker noises in a row, and it's already 1:30."
posted by Etrigan at 10:31 AM on February 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

At an hour and three minutes in, the tracks start vocalizing "Always attack further!" in a dire chant. It's eerie and intense and reminds me of Industrial before it got a coat of polish in the mid-'90s.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:31 AM on February 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

This will be an excellent ringtone.
posted by schmod at 10:39 AM on February 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

Came in here to post Steve Reich's Guitar Phase. Actually, if you have these two playing in separate tabs it gets really interesting.
posted by Existential Dread at 10:41 AM on February 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

This will be an excellent ringtone.

Yeah, but you have to let it ring for 7 minutes before you pick up.
posted by Existential Dread at 10:43 AM on February 28, 2017 [6 favorites]

The two time-shifted tracks are played at 99.9% and 100.1% speed, so they get 1/1000th more out of phase every period.

It takes 7:30 for the three tracks to get exactly 3 pulses off out of the 16 in the loop (which is why they sound totally in sync there), which happens after 3*1000/16 = 187.5 periods. So the length of the sample is approximately 450 seconds / 187.5 periods = 2.4 seconds / period.

Reich actually started by playing around with tape phasing like this, which then inspired the works in which live musicians did the same thing manually. Check out It's Gonna Rain and Come Out.
posted by dfan at 10:47 AM on February 28, 2017 [10 favorites]

posted by ASCII Costanza head at 11:50 AM on February 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

Orbital once did something similar to Lt. Worf.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:50 AM on February 28, 2017 [5 favorites]

This is amazing. I love it. It's like an unbalanced washer load plus that satisfying feeling you get when your windshield wipers sync up with the car taillights in front of you.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:35 PM on February 28, 2017 [5 favorites]

I like this!

I definitely remember forever-ago slightly-obsessively manually looping the intro bongo bars of Die Krupps' To The Hilt from CD to tape, then high-speed dubbing that onto a second tape and chilling out to the inevitably-desynchronised playback of both at once. What I don't remember is why. Ha!
posted by comealongpole at 12:43 PM on February 28, 2017

Thanks dfan, that's what I was trying to get at. Sorry I was confusing frequency and phase there.

At 42:09 it sounds like all three loops are just about in alignment. Assuming that's play 1000 for the main track, and 999 / 1001 for the other two, that gets us to (42*60+9)/1000 = 2.529 seconds per loop.

I suppose every 1/16th between 00:00 and 42:09 should be a potentially interesting alignment? That's every 158.0625 seconds.
posted by Nelson at 1:22 PM on February 28, 2017

[this is good]
posted by John Cohen at 1:59 PM on February 28, 2017

42:09 everything lines up again.
posted by emelenjr at 2:13 PM on February 28, 2017

I've been waiting for this moment for all my life.
posted by Flashman at 2:59 PM on February 28, 2017 [20 favorites]

well, now I know what it must have felt like
to be living in a studio apartment with Phil Collins while he was composing this song.
posted by any major dude at 4:01 PM on February 28, 2017 [4 favorites]

This made me unexpectedly bitter about the time we were going to perform Clapping Music when I was in music school, and it was cut from the show for time.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:10 PM on February 28, 2017 [4 favorites]

This is so excellent. Does it have to be an hour and ten minutes to capture all of the possible variations, or do the patterns repeat themselves? I suppose it should be easy enough (for someone other than me!) to figure that out with a bit of math if we knew the length of the original sample.
posted by tybstar at 4:59 PM on February 28, 2017

in a studio apartment with Phil Collins while he was composing this song.

A stu-stu-studio ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:32 PM on February 28, 2017 [10 favorites]

Orbital once did something similar to Lt. Worf

posted by Going To Maine at 7:19 PM on February 28, 2017

Came in here to post Steve Reich's Guitar Phase. Actually, if you have these two playing in separate tabs it gets really interesting.

Also, similarly, Cory Arcangel took the Slash guitar solo at the beginning of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and paired it up with itself but phased: “Sweet 16” (I really like it.)
posted by Going To Maine at 7:24 PM on February 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

It comes back to being in sync right during the oast seconds as well.
posted by umbú at 8:40 PM on February 28, 2017

odd coincidence: the group i play with is rehearsing both Piano Phase and Clapping Music for our summer program. To me, they are really difficult pieces, but oh. so. fun.
posted by j_curiouser at 9:15 PM on February 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

Very good.

Can someone do this with the Eastenders "doof doof" sound please?
posted by ZipRibbons at 1:39 AM on March 1, 2017

Re: Steve Reich, it's not tape manipulation but here's "Drumming" yt .

Drumming is an interesting piece because it's the same rhythm pattern being taken up and taken out of phase and then expounded upon by three different voices of rhythm instruments (tuned skin drums, tuned wood, and tuned metal) each in turn and then finally uniting in the final section. It's a truly magnificent piece, really. My prog/psychedelia/trance/techno self is a bit more in love with Music For 18 Musicians, but I heard Drumming first.

[I actually heard The Desert Music first. I was involved in a lot of classical music study and was a bit of an odd kid anyway when I was in high school, and one day on the local NPR station I heard the end of this piece of music that was so fascinating to me that I called the radio station and asked what they had just played and then went out the NEXT DAY and bought the newly released album. (Or maybe I had to order the album, I can't remember.) Anyway, The Desert Music. Was revelatory for me in a way I couldn't describe to anyone. And it was maybe a decade later when I encountered Drumming and then realized the two pieces were from the same composer.]
posted by hippybear at 2:09 AM on March 1, 2017

It's been...
posted by Rhomboid at 6:29 AM on March 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

A reference to this on twitter was among the very first things I saw when I woke up this morning and I am not regretting it a bit.

And this is a really good choice for this sort of nonsense! The drum fill sample has some great features for something you're going to grind itself at length:

1. Lots of empty space. Each drum hit has a big transient spike and then some decay so there's a sense of space between sounds that the off-sync versions can work into. The way over the course of the piece you move from strongly structured and percussive sections that have a "beat" to them to sort of rolling-shambles where something's landing every little moment, and then back around again, is a nice effect that wouldn't be there so much with e.g. droning guitars that'd give you more of a constant wash of sound.

2. Tonal variety. It's basically ten drum hits (setting aside some less audible kickdrum footwork), but it's on three or four different toms each of which has a fairly distinct note associated with it and so despite Just Being Drums there's a kind of emergent melodic aspect to the whole thing. The tonal movement is built into the riff in distinct way, Phil hammering the high toms during those first couple hits and then moving down to mid tom, low tom, bottoming out over the course of the fill, which makes this more interesting source material in some ways than if it had been an otherwise rhythmically identical string of e.g. snare hits.

3. Polyrhythmics! So the structure of this fill: you can count it out as 16 beats long (sub-beats technically but let's keep this simpler to write out), but there's not a hit on every beat: Phil plays Duh-Duh (pause) Duh-Duh (pause) Duh-Duh (pause) Duh-Duh (pause) DUH (pause) DUH (pause).

We could rewrite that as a little string where X = hit, o = pause, like this:


And the obvious thing looking at that (and maybe obvious listening to the fill depending on how used you are to breaking down rhythmic structures while you listen to them) is that the fill is made up of little bits that repeat: it's basically four XXo segments followed by two Xo segments. If you cut the fill into two pieces on the border between those sets of segments, you'd get a 12-beat loop of repeated XXo patterns (so something an in-three feel, too fast here for a waltz but that idea) and a tighter 4-beat loop of repeated Xo patterns (which at this tempo would feel a little like a four-on-the-floor beat). But In The Air Tonight is an in-four song, four beats to a measure established really throughly throughout its running time up until the fill, so when Phil fills briefly in-three with XXoXXoXXoXXo before resolving again to an in-four feel with the last four beats, XoXo, it makes the fill that much more engaging as a break from the tense evenness of the song before. That three + four feel married together sounds conspicuous and it works well for the song.

But we're just listening to the fill loop, so we don't get a long run-up of in-four to make those XXo bits jump out, right? But! This piece keeps sliding those instances of the loops past each other slowly in time. And so we end up realigning copies of the loop against itself. Let's look at the loop string again, this time times three to represent the slower, normal, and faster version. At the start:


But then things start sliding by fractions of a beat past each other, first in a chaotic muddle but then eventually reaching 1/16th of the way around the cycle, where the slow one has fallen behind by a beat and the fast one is ahead by a beat. We can rewrite the strings by just shifting them by one character, so:


The way there's a couple Xs on each column with no really dominant pattern of lots-of-Xs on some beats and lots-of-os on others is why that segment of the recording, 1/16th in, ends up seeming to sort of cohere (less chaotic noise everywhere, everything's happening on a beat) but doesn't jump out at you a ton.

But fastforward a couple more 16ths to where we're 3/16ths through, and you get this:


Look at the middle chunk of that: you've got several beats in a row with a unified XXo pattern on all three tracks. That bit practically JUMPS up, like all of a sudden stuff is not just cohering but returning to form. It sounds like the original fill, a lot. It's not quite but its close.

The XXo alignments are really conspicuous when they happen, but you also get Xo alignments and those are interesting too.

And so I mentioned polyrhythms, the use of multiple rhythmic patterns together in a piece, for two reasons: the original fill's use of both in-three and in-four segments as a brief implication in the original song of a change of rhythm (rapidly resolved, it turns out, back to the original), but also because in this piece we get in these sliding of segments past each other a whole bevy of three-against-four (or three-against-two as it's usually described) polyrhythmic structures where different instances of the same shifted fill are playing in two different rhythmic times against each other. That's only happening because of the structure of the original fill!

4. Tonal variety across rhythmically identical segments. So we've got those XXo segments lined up in a row of four, which with the string notation I'm using looks like just the same thing four times, but really it's not: Phil's hitting different toned toms as he moves through the riff, high to low notes. Which means even when we get two or three XXo's lined up vertically in time, we're not hearing the same set of tones in each case. At song start we get all the tones in unison, but every later juxtaposition of the XXo segments has some other set of tones mixed together. So they sound the same, but not! This is also where some of the more interesting effects in the muddier, less-coherent sections come in, as we get constantly-shifting miniature studies in melodic rhythm as those different tom tones crash against each other in little flams and arpeggios.

Basically this whole piece is the perfect marriage of what sounds like a dumb internet joke and actually genuinely inspired and well-executed musical experimentation. I've listened before, more than once, to the straight fill-loop-for-thirty-minutes take and honestly enjoyed that too, but this is really, really fantastic.
posted by cortex at 7:35 AM on March 1, 2017 [16 favorites]

(One other neat little note: you don't have to jump to only n/16th intervals to get stronger sense of cohesion, either; because it's three tracks with two of them stretching in opposite directions, you can jump by 1/32nd intervals and still get two of the three tracks lining up on the beat; when the slower track is slow by n/32 and the faster track is faster by n/32, those two will line up with each other right on a 1/16th column while the normal speed track sits in between as a half-beat off. That's where some of the coherent but still busy, double-speed sections come from.)
posted by cortex at 7:52 AM on March 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

Hugs and kisses for your XOXO analysis, Cortex, that's exactly what I was looking for.

Here are the timestamps for the 1/16 alignments, based on a total length of 42:09. For instance 07:54 is the 3/16 alignment we've been talking about.
02:38 05:16 07:54 10:32 13:10 15:48 18:26 21:04 23:42 26:20 28:58 31:36 34:14 36:52 39:30 42:09
And to Cortex' observation the 1/32 alignments are also interesting, here's the other sixteen of the 1/32 alignments that aren't in the above list.
01:19 03:57 06:35 09:13 11:51 14:29 17:07 19:45 22:23 25:01 27:39 30:17 32:55 35:33 38:11 40:49
One way to understand the piece as a whole is it's a gradual process of shifting from one alignment to the next. If you're not paying close attention you hear mostly cacophany, then roughly every 80 seconds it comes into focus briefly before moving to the next accidental polyrhythm. I've had this on play while typing this up and suddenly it sounded amazing. I looked up and it's 31:36, or 12/16 through.
posted by Nelson at 8:14 AM on March 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

This is by far the best thing that ever emerged from Phil Collins' solo career.
posted by farlukar at 8:17 AM on March 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Fascinating...it starts to lose coherence as a drum fill as early as 2 minutes in, but then reforms into a coherent, but different, drum fill about 40 seconds later.
There's no way I'm listening to the whole thing today but the periodic loss and subsequent regaining of sync is like an audible Lissajous Pattern.
posted by rocket88 at 9:25 AM on March 1, 2017

> Can someone do this with the Eastenders "doof doof" sound please?

here you go
posted by farlukar at 1:24 PM on March 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

You're a wonderful person, farlukar.
posted by ZipRibbons at 2:19 PM on March 1, 2017

> Clapping Music

Reich fans might get a kick out of this visualization of Music for Pieces of Wood, compliments of the San Francisco Symphony's SoundBox experimental performance space.
posted by ASCII Costanza head at 5:24 PM on March 1, 2017

The Horse You Rode In On also did one for the Amen Break and I highly recommend it.
posted by cortex at 1:50 PM on March 3, 2017

> one for the Amen Break
Next up When The Levee Breaks, Funky Drummer and any other drum riff imaginable.
posted by farlukar at 3:09 PM on March 3, 2017

Cowbell riff from Don't Fear The Reaper, clearly.
posted by cortex at 6:09 PM on March 3, 2017

I assume that the one with the Amen Break is just a DnB song.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:22 PM on March 3, 2017

Steve Reich is Calling: Apple's Marimba ringtone given the phase treatment. ↬ MeFi's own Jason Kottke.
posted by Nelson at 4:25 PM on March 7, 2017

This is awesome. This is awesome. This is awesome.
This is awesom. eThis is awesomeT. his is awesome.
This is aweso. meThis is awesomeTh. is is awesome.
This is awes. omeThis is awesomeThi. s is awesome.
This is awe. someThis is awesomeThis. is awesome.
This is aw. esomeThis is awesomeThisi. s awesome.
This is a. wesomeThis is awesomeThisis. awesome.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:46 AM on March 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

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