New Order’s seminal anthem ‘Blue Monday’ needs little introduction. Arguably one of the most important pieces of music in contemporary British culture, the track has now been transformed through the medium of 8D technology.
While millions of people are forced to remain home amid strict social distancing measures, the idea of live music feels like a distant memory. In a bid to indulge music in a different form, a new online phenomenon is sweeping the world of music as ‘8D audio’ offers a completely unique take on the sonic experience. Shifting the sound from left to right and back again, 8D music allows the listening to submerge themselves deeper into the sound of the material.
While the craze began with a universally shared WhatsApp message, which came with an accompanying house music track, has now transcended into a wide-ranging online movement with numerous iconic songs from the past being brought forward into the present. “Listen to this song with headphones (put on the 2 headphones). It is the new music of the Pentatonix, composed with 8D technology. Listen to it only with headphones,” the original message advised.
The technology, on a physiological level, attempts to tap into a sensation of hearing a binaural recording. “It will be the first time that you will listen to that song with your brain and not with your ears,” the message continues. “You will feel the music from outside and not from the headphones. Feel the effects of this new technology.”
We are testing the phenomenon by using New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’ as the guinea pig in this experiment. The beauty of a track originally featured on the group’s second album Power, Corruption & Lies which came out back in 1983 and became a Top 10 single for New Order in Britain, which can still fill up any dancefloor in the world 37 years on.
New Order came up with the legendary rhythm on the song when they were experimenting with a new Oberheim DMX drum machine they had purchased. Speaking to the Guardian in 2006, Peter Hook explained: “Bernard [Sumner] and Stephen [Morris] were the instigators. It was their enthusiasm for new technology. The drum pattern was ripped off from a Donna Summer B-side. We’d finished the drum pattern and we were really happy, then Steve accidentally kicked out the drum machine lead so we had to start from scratch and it was never as good.”
Adding: “The technology was forever breaking down and the studio was really archaic. Kraftwerk booked it after us because they wanted to emulate ‘Blue Monday.’ They gave up after four or five days. It was a collection of soundbites – it sort of grew and grew. When we got to the end I went in and jammed the bass; I stole a riff from Ennio Morricone. Bernard went in and jammed the vocals. They’re not about Ian Curtis; we wanted it to be vague. I was reading about Fats Domino. He had a song called Blue Monday and it was a Monday and we were all miserable so I thought, ‘Oh that’s quite apt.'”
As the song embraced new technology so heavily in its creation, it’s an appropriate choice to be given the treatment from this new 8D technology, which is a strange sensation that somehow works so plug in your headphones and give it a listen.