Patrick Robert says Obscura was supposed to be slower

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Agoraphobic News recently published an interview with legendary death metal drummer Patrick Robert, the deranged cephalopod-behind-the-kit responsible for at least a good helping of the insanity that is Gorguts’s Obscura. Although that interview is chock-full of interesting tidbits, one of the responses that stood out regards the tempo of Obscura. According to Robert, the album was supposed to be slower!

Here’s what Robert had to say in response to a question from the venerable webzine.

Agoraphobic News: It’s pretty interesting to note that Obscura was finished in Fall of 1994. You stepped into the shoes of Steve MacDonald on the drums. Did you change the majority of the drumming patterns by adding your own touch or did it stay the same as Steve MacDonald intended?

Patrick Robert: It’s not 100% the same. I had a pre-prod with some of the tunes and a shitty rehearsal tape with the rest. I had to decipher it.

So there are some differences in what I do. For example, in Rapturous Grief, I think around the 3:15 mark (I checked to make sure), I play this double-strokes pattern between the ride and snare with the double-bass going on under. The original from Steve was the same blast beat throughout the section.

In the 1st riff of Obscura, most of the crash cymbals are actually right-hand chokes. You don’t hear it much but that’s what I was doing. They are a lot more like tom patterns that follow the guitars like in The Art of Sombre Ecstasy.

Just watch any live from Gorguts with Steve and you’ll see the differences. I mainly embellished them.

I also played the tunes faster. I though they were the right tempo but when I met Steve M after I was out of the band, he said they were faster so he had to speed them up! I was like what??? I though they were the right tempo. That’s when I figured out that the rehearsal tape was playing faster in my tape machine. Lol!

That’s nuts! I’ve always envisioned Obscura as being this meticulous work of craftsmanship that was decades ahead of its time, but that’s not entirely accurate. There’s definitely a degree of shoddiness to its composition, and Robert’s own errors in the drumming no doubt lent themselves to the unhinged feeling of the record.

And yet, this news by no means dampens the impact of the album; in fact, it humanizes it as a work of eager young musicians willing to try something different. As Adam Kalmbach noted in our recent interview with him, failure is an intrinsic part of art. This intricacy Robert accidentally introduced into the music may have been an error, but it certainly added to the inhuman feel of the album and helps Obscura to sound so fresh and relevant today, almost 20 years later.

(Photo VIA)

So how would a slower Obscura sound? Quite a bit more sinister, but perhaps less deranged, it turns out. We may never hear the songs as originally intended, but thanks to the magic of Youtube, you can dial down the speed to 0.75 or 0.5 on the embedded version of the album below and find out for yourself. The slower pace certainly adds a lot of menace but reduces the manic nature of the compositions. I think my favorite part is the odd break halfway through “Nostaliga.” Slowed down, it sounds downright funky.

What do you think? Are you glad with the way the record turned out? What other famous errors have made albums even more memorable? Sound off below.

Thanks again to Agoraphobic News for the rad interview.

(h/t Doug Moore of Pyrrhon for bringing this my attention)

  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    FVCK YEAH SICK NASTY PERCUSSION

  • Brutalist_Receptacle
    • Wet W’s Whistle

      I can’t wait to appropriate some Mexican culture and eat way too many nachos that will make me super gassy and then fall asleep on the couch under a comically-sized sombrero after a single margarita.

      • Brutalist_Receptacle

        Don’t forget to visit the Black Velvet Elvis painting booth on your way out!

      • Brutalist_Receptacle
      • Pentagram Sam

        Hell, I done started the day of right with a big ass s Pambaso. Aka torta gone spicy. Glory

      • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

        How is it even possible to fall asleep after a single margarita? Shouldn’t you feel lively?

        • Wet W’s Whistle

          What if it’s a big El Presidente margarita?

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            I… don’t know what that is?

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Interesting fact, Dubs. I can’t think of any memorable errors on anything I’ve listened to recently, but awhile back I did find myself in a corner of youtube with 33rpm versions of full albums. This one was pretty fun.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AgWT-05pu8

    • Señor Jefe El Rossover

      I’ve spent too much time with those…

    • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

      In the book “Choosing Death”, a former member of Morbid Angel comments that he didn’t have money to buy death metal records, so he would play his old Iron Maiden albums at 45rmp to make them go faster

    • Dumpster Lung

      Have you heard King Diamond slowed down? It’s essentially Candlemass! But the high vocals are lolbuttz as it gets at that speed.

  • I like the sound of Lucky Loo’s voice when slowed down to .75 speed

    • Wet W’s Whistle

      Me too!

    • Grvm Spectre ov Derth

      It’s Loopy. Loopy Lou.

  • The only memorable mistake I can remember is my life

  • Doc Torluv

    AWESOME live-in-studio false start that actually made the song more pummeling:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POLAOee4YtU

  • Señor Jefe El Rossover

    I recently figured out my music player has a speed control function. I’ve messed around with a few albums, pretty fun.

    • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

      I use this app called Riffstation to learn and rehearse songs on guitar, and it has a function to slow/speed songs without changing pitch. I’ve had a lot of fun with that, although I must say that Carcass sounds like shit in standard tuning

      • Señor Jefe El Rossover

        It corrects the pitch? That’s rad

  • Guacamole Jim

    It often seems like some of the best art is created rapidly or even accidentally – times when bands are rushed or constrained by factors out of their control, forced to make choices they wouldn’t have otherwise. On the flip side, sometimes incredible art is made when the artist takes an insane amount of time to craft the perfect work of art. Art made when things are comfortable can be good, but maybe tends to hold its inherent mediocrity to the final product.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      See also: Wintersun, Chinese Democracy

      • Guacamole Jim

        Yeah, that’s a fair point. It’s definitely hard to pin down exactly what makes something “great”, and simply pointing to the method isn’t enough.

        • CyberneticOrganism

          Spot on. People can definitely tell when there’s been “magic in the studio,” versus when something has been overthought and focus-grouped to death like St Anger.

      • Wet W’s Whistle

        The writing process for Chinese Democracy was pretty fascinating. At one point in the 90s, Axl was really into NIN and thought industrial rock was the future, but as the writing process dragged and dragged, he just never really updated.

        • Keep it in your pants, Dad.

          • Wet W’s Whistle

            GO TO YOUR ROOM!

          • YOU CANNOT PUNISH ME FOR A PLACE I’D RATHER BE.

            *SLAMS DOOR*
            *TURNS ON KATY PERRY*

  • It is rumored that the flange effect is the result of an error involving a reel to reel.

    • Wet W’s Whistle

      Ooooh, did not know that.

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    I rated the album 5/5, which must mean that I’m quite happy with how it turned out in the end.

    NOSTAAAAALGIAAAAAAAAAAAA

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnV62xxrL_A

  • Not sure if Xasthur’s detuned guitar and cello were originally intentional.

  • Can’t imagine Obscura being any slower and I don’t want to. Gorguts got slower after this anyway, so they got their mulligan in a way.

    • Deuce has attempted to rustle a Jimmy today, but the soul still burns.
      Pilates Dust (the library album) >>>>>

      • Doing Pilates to Pilates Dust should be a thing.

  • Grvm Spectre ov Derth

    SKRONK

  • Count_Breznak
  • tertius_decimus

    Goes to show how error helps to raise what you do and how it can expand your art to some new horizons. I love doing errors and learn from them and do appreciate pretty things that were made out of those mistakes.

    Obscura is a sheer milestone in world’s music. Quite few could actually understand what this album was about back in the day. Glad to see Luc got the recognition he and his team deserves.