At some point in every kid’s life, you figure out that speeding up any voice recording makes it sound like one of the Chipmunks and days of cheap laughs follow (“Check it out guys – Chipmunk Obama!”). However, the simple joy of Alvin-ising has been largely forgotten by adulthood – that is, unless you’re Kanye or one of a host of other hip-hop producers that used the trick to rule the airwaves for years with chipmunk soul.
Up here in the 6, we love to be contrarian. After messing around with a suitcase turntable featuring an ultra-slow 16 rpm speed, Toronto electronic musician and Holy Fuck/Dusted band member Brian Borcherdt wondered what would happen if he took an Alvin and the Chipmunks covers record and slowed it down so their voices sounded normal. Turns out the answer is music that’s pretty amazing… and scary as shit.
For the project chipmunkson16speed, Borcherdt chose a few of The Chipmunks’ many covers of classic hits, and the results are hella weird. The tunes with more sparse instrumentation (Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven Is A Place On Earth”, The Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”) turn into hauntingly slow electro-pop numbers with booming vocals that wouldn’t be out of place on the Drive soundtrack. More layered tunes like The Knack’s “My Sharona” are transformed into sludgy doom metal.
Currently, Alvin and his brothers are on a North American tour rocking out covers of contemporary tunes by the likes of Carly Rae Jepsen and fun. Unfortunately, they’ve already swung through Toronto or else we’d be daring Borcherdt to sneak backstage and commandeer the soundboard, forcing the Chipmunks to lip sync a version of “Call Me Maybe” that’s as creepy as their costumes.