Musical Tuesdays: Paranoia

Music can make you feel happy. Music can make you feel sad. Sometimes it can make you feel both. And on occasion it can make you feel like the walls are closing in.

Many years ago I was at a friend’s place who had recently splashed out on an extremely powerful subwoofer for his stereo system. To demonstrate it he asked for all of us coming over that day to bring a CD or two (this being back in the days when the CDs was the music storage medium of choice). I remembered this instruction at the last minute when heading out the door, and grabbed the first random CD I found to hand.

Also attending the christening of the subwoofer was an individual who had earlier on indulged in some, shall we say, less than legal substances. Once the power of the subwoofer had been adequately demonstrated by almost shattering the loungeroom windows, we put on the CD I’d bought with me, at which point our slightly worse for wear friend quickly became quite twitchy, and begged us to turn it off, because it was “making him paranoid”.

The song in question?

Yes. Seriously.

I had a rather twitchy experience myself recently when I stumbled over Phillip Glass’s soundtrack to the 1982 movie Koyaanisqatsi. The first time I heard the main theme I had to turn it off, because it sounded like the most lifeless, frightening and downright evil music I’d ever heard. It resembled the droning of Satanic monks on their endless rounds through benighted, lightless catacombs, deep under the earth, where the twisted bodies of the uneasy dead have long mouldered into dust. Or the tramp of a million workers trudging into a factory where the corpses of unwanted children are systematically rendered into ash.

After a few re-listens I can now tolerate it (no damn song is going to beat me!), but I can’t say I like it much. That said, plenty of people do, some even calling it “soothing”. I wonder if that says more about them or about me?

Finally (and with nothing to do with paranoia) I stumbled over Chvrches’ cover of Bela Lugosi’s Dead today. I really don’t know what to make of it. Getting a bunch of synthpoppers to cover a Bauhaus track is like hiring Andre the Giant to play a Munchkin. There’s nothing wrong with Andre the Giant, but he’s so at odds with the role that the end result won’t be anything like it should. Judge for yourself…

Or perhaps you might prefer this version?

Over and Out.

2 thoughts on “Musical Tuesdays: Paranoia”

  1. Mmm..you get some weird stuff happens below 20 Hz when you get into infrasonics..particularly with big sub woofers. Long time ago i was involved in audio engineering and we messed about with this..Very odd psycho-acoustic effects..Some funny, some not..

  2. Yes. People can experience strange phenomena when subjected to sub-audible acoustics – such as a feeling of ‘a presence’ in the room. Like the feeling one can have of being watched.

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