Tracks that use Gradual onset of Distortion to Great Effect

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I love Spotify. I refuse to participate in the ‘social networking’ aspect of things. Indeed I find the idea of assuming I want everyone knowing what I listen to, and the assumption that I want to see what other people are listening to mildly offensive. That’s ok, I don’t mind being offended.

That said, here is a list of songs (not a playlist) which use the gradual onset of distortion to great effect. Distortion has been used since the dawn of time to make guitars fuzzier, vocals warmer, snares more brutal.

These tracks don’t just stick some fuzz on an instrument. I’ve chosen tracks that use the gradual saturation of an amplifier to slowly overdrive and distort, and change the character of the sound. This has the effect of introducing a part with a given timbre and then gradually changing the timbre of the sound bit by bit. The result is an extra side to the musical journey throughout the track.

Lithuania by Jaga Jazzist

The rhodes piano, which has provided a rhythmical bed throughout the piece (and a clever trick at the start) slowly distorts in the last 30 seconds of the track to something truly grimy. This transforms it from ‘mainstay’ of the track into something a bit more rebellious. Jaga Jazzist are my favourite contemporary group, I think.

Impossible : Shuttle remix

The main part in this track is rhythmical almost-tuned shouting. The voices initially have a well-defined punch with very slight distortion but quickly descend into a very squelchy sound. There’s also some other kind of degradation, possibly reduction of bit-depth. The effect is a spreading, straining and then dissipating into something more nebulous. Glorious.

La Nocturne

A number of parts become increasingly distorted. This is more of a subtle timbre-change than the others.

Boom Bip – The Birdcatcher’s Return

The drums become increasingly grimy and distorted towards the end. More of a ‘fuzz sound’, but a nice end to the track.

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