We have read a lot about 8D music during the last couple of months. Thanks to a bit of boredom due to social distancing, this trend came back after having been forgotten for years. The “8D audio technology” traces back its origins to years ago. As a matter of fact, you can find YouTube channels dedicated exclusively to 8D music with millions of subscribers that started in 2015 or 2016.
But what is 8D technology exactly? It allows you to listen to music in a more immersive and suggestive way thanks to channel panning – which, in simpler terms, is the ability of producers and sound technicians of “moving the sound” from one ear to the other when mixing a track. Using the term “8D” is clearly an exaggeration, maybe pushed by the desire of selling it to the audience as something completely new and out of the ordinary. It would be fairer talking about “3D” music, because listeners have only three possible directions from which they perceive the sound – left, center and right. Examples of creative usages of panning can be found in music from the past as well as today: from The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” to a lot of psychedelic rock – Tame Impala – and EDM music.
Back to latest months: since March a lot of “8D” audio files started circulating. From Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, to Billie Eilish’s “bury a friend” to Tones And I’s “Dance Monkey”, whose 8D version topped Spotify’s charts. However, these were all edited versions of already existing songs, most likely re-elaborated by a software.
Today I’d like to talk about an album entirely written using 8D technology – i.e. panning. It is the case of Flavio Ferri’s “Delta V”. Ferri is one of the founding members of Delta V, an electro/synth pop band out of Italy. His solo work with 8D technology “Altered Reality” can be summed in one word: experimentation. What Ferri does is experimenting with sounds, dynamics and songs’ structures in a similar manner to what I’m used to listen when approaching electronic producers like Aphex Twin, Squarepusher or Nicolas Jaar. What is so incredible of Ferri’s instrumental experimentation, however, is the technology itself. Listening to this album doesn’t feel like hearing to somebody trying to encapsulate the trend of the moment, but actually like assisting to somebody exploiting a technology – or, better, a technique – today used only in small sections of songs to give birth to something completely new.