Although some might think that REV is a simple “reverse” button like the one on your DAW or sampler, it’s far more complex and beautiful than that.
REV is a world of sound design for producers, composers and musicians all based on reverse elements. Here are just a few examples found bumping from sound systems and television screens around the globe.
Kanye West – “Ultralight Beam”
REV gets the spotlight in the opening of this Kanye hit from “The Life of Pablo.”
Listen closely at the beginning while young Natalie Green preaches about not wanting any devils in the house. Before Chance the Rapper, gospel singer Kirk Franklin, and a ten-piece choir kick in pay attention to the keyboards. Notice how they sound reversed but not in a basic way, instead in a rich, warm, supernatural style.
“Ultralight Beam” was one of the tunes that convinced Grammy voters to nominate West’s seventh studio album for Best Rap Album. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard Top 200 and was the bedrock of the unforgettable Saint Pablo Tour known for the truly original stage that had the rapper elevated just above the crowd below.
Mutato Musika – Last Man on Earth
Mark Mothersbaugh and the team at Mutato Muzika often used REV to build tension on this dark comedy starring Will Forte as a lonely gentleman roaming the USA after a deadly contagious virus wipes out humanity in 2020.
Not only was the concept for this 2015 television series eerily prophetic, but the music at times was equally creepy, in part to Mothersbaugh’s use of REV in the show’s scores.
“The world of TV doesn’t typically allow for you to make many big steps in any direction in the music department,” the singer/songwriter best known for his work in DEVO told Post Perspective. “Music usually plays a backseat role, and it’s very tricky to work in anything new or original. For The Last Man on Earth, we were able to play around with music almost the way Phil was playing with the soccer balls and tennis balls by putting faces on them [a la Tom Hanks in Cast Away]”
Cardi B – “Ring” (featuring Kehlani)
Producer Scribz Riley layered sounds from REV into this track from Cardi B’s debut album.
“I was actually looking for a piano and I pulled this up and I was like, ‘okay, this kind of sounds better than a piano cause it’s doing a little bit more than the piano,’” he told Output VP of Marketing Joey Ng. “And I did another sound layer of that from Rev because it’s got like a reversed feel. So I was like, okay!”
The British producer also told Ng that he used Rev to add a little flair to one of Arcade’s presets.
“Yeah. I’ll be honest with you guys, I kept this exactly the same,” he said of the #133 Simple Piano Loops preset. “But with the Rev sound…I remember taking off the delay… and I just messed with the release just so it was following the piano.”
Ramin Djawadi – “Westworld Theme”
REV contributes to Ramin Djawadi’s dark soundscape for the HBO hit series theme in a lush, rich way.
Djawadi who also composed the theme of another little HBO series, “Game of Thrones” and the Marvel blockbuster “Iron Man,” told GQ that it was his Iranian-born father who was an unconscious inspiration, through of all things, the unique time signatures.
“Game of Thrones” theme is in 6/8 while Westworld’s is 12/8 — much like Middle Eastern music. Count along as you focus in on the REVs fingerprints on this theme.