Weirding the voice

A second show on the voice for Upbeat, this one looking at technological transformations of the voice in music that sits happily in the shade of popular music.

John Oswald (1988). “Pretender”. Plunderphonics [EP]. RPM facilitates gender-bending (as do reel-to-reel tape machines, samplers, etc etc): “Over the course of this song Dolly Parton gets an aural sex change. Check out the last verse in which she gets to sing a duet with himself. Meanwhile, the arrangement goes from infinitely fast to infinitely slow. (John Oswald).

Goldfrapp (2000). “Deer Stop”. Felt Mountain [CD]. Alison Goldfrapp’s vocal transformed via Will Gregory’s electronics, rendering the whispery noir delivery all the more potent, as if Gregory’s production tools are microscopes for revealing the sonic qualia of emotion…

Burial (2007). “Archangel”. Untrue [CD]. Burial (Willian Bevan) samples Ray J’s song “One Wish” (2005) – which apparently charted here in NZ –, and uses pitch-shifting and time-stretching to map the vocal to a new melody, a side effect of which is that the voice is androgenized. No more a song of boy meets/loves/loses girl, instead we hear a shape-shifting jilted lover, singing the universal song of being lost in and through love.

Mouse on Mars (2001). “Actionist Respoke”. Idiology [CD]. Voice becomes an electronic instrument, a bionic rhythm machine, thanks to the vocalist’s supper of a sampler and turntable… This track works nicely in tandem with Kodwo Eshun’s book More Brilliant than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction (London: Quartet Books, 1998). Eshun’s afrofuturism might just admit two white guys from Germany (Kraftwerk helped Afrika Bambaataa on his way, so why not?)

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