As much as I liked getting into the nuts and bolts of the vocoder (and I hope you did too), I want to back up to the Euphonia for a twinkle.

Okay. It’s 1846. Imagine you’re at a demonstration for a hot new voice machine, one that will revolutionize artificial speech. You’re sitting in your finest coattails, looking forward to a whizbang mechanical marvel, and this is what’s unveiled:

euphonia 1
why would you do this

Now imagine a “hoarse, sepulchral voice” coming out of this thing. This was not a linguistic manipulator; this was a permanent cure for sleep.

Anyway, back to reality, somewhat.

I owe this strip — and partial inspiration for the comic itself — to Dave Tompkins’ How to Wreck a Nice Beach. If you have any interest in the vocoder in any of its incarnations, or if you just want to read some damned interesting stuff from a music journalist who can turn a phrase, PICK UP THIS BOOK. Lamentably, I jettisoned a lot of the electro/funk/hip-hop stuff because I’m unfamiliar with it. But he was there, he loved it, he used the vocoder as a vessel to make a book about it. Rabbit holes a-plenty.

I tried to be as comprehensive (and comprehensible) as possible, but I still had to leave out a lot of neat stuff. (Like the fact that the SIGGRUV records were made by the Muzak Corporation.) What I’d like to do is put forth a supplement next week or something to sop up what I missed, like a good soup. I’d rather get into the Talk Box and Auto-Tune while the creepy electrolarynx fever is still on me. I know there are so many more vocoder songs out there. So many! If there’s an obscure song that I just have to hear, tell me in the comments. Or tell each other! Unleash your questionable uncanny-valley musical taste upon the world!