Happy accidents that turn into rabbit holes

As I have written here before, I am a frequent thrift store goer. One of the things I look for from time to time is used cassette tapes. Mix tapes and answering machine tapes specifically. My wife and I have laughed our way home a couple times to the random audio collage of someone elses life. In fact one time the cassette actually told the story of a woman’s life as she left her husband, moved and found someone new all in messages from her friends and relatives. Before we knew it, we were awaiting each new message as if we were watching a heated tv series episodes from the finale.
That however is for another time…

Mix tapes can be amazing too. It is amazing how someone can capture a moment in time so well when they are right in it, without even knowing it. Of course it helps if you like the music, so I buy these fairly infrequently. Recently, I came across a peculiar one that caught my attention immediately. From the gothic printing on the spine, to the Elizabethan painting on the front, I knew this was going to be something different. YOINK!


The mixes consist of medieval music from various periods. Now I have never listened to music like this, but I have an open mind, so I came home and put one on. I was floored! Amazing stuff. Pure audio poetry. It is of course vastly different from me culturally, so listening to it is a sort of documentary experience, but a great one none the less.

It came to mind on hearing certain pieces, that this would make great sampling material for some of the music I make. So I ran downstairs and started running it on to the tape machine in order to manipulate it in certain ways and track it into pro tools.

When I listened back to it, I was struck again, but the sound of it, this time, blaring a rage through my speakers. I had run it in too hot. But it sounded awesome! Why doesn’t anyone make music like this? The beauty of medieval song writing with the power of doom! I think I listened to it ten times more that day, and I have even more since.

Words can’t really pin it down, just listen for yourself. Beware, lots of distortion coming your way! Enjoy!

Distorted Gothic

Hearing this, and slowed down versions of this type of music in general got me excited, so I built a pitch control into a walkman, so I can listen to all of these tapes at whatever speed I deem fitting to the music. So far, it’s been really nice.

Update: Commuted to work with the varispeed walkman for the first time today. It was really exciting. Having the ability to listen to the music and consider speed a function equal to volume or eq is really mind opening. The sounds change so musch in character as they are slowed down. You hear more, and have more time to absorb sounds before they are “gone”. If anyone is interested, I can post a construction guide for the walkman, it is really very simple.



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