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Two suggestions:

  • If you have a turntable, you can always just hijack the rotation-- put the turntable at 0 rpm and then manually spin the record the wrong way. The problem with this is that you will very rarely be able to spin the record manually at a constant rate-- your clumsy human hands will waver, thus meaning you get this weird pitch-oscillation effect.
  • If you have a macintosh, open up the desired cd track in MoviePlayer, usually using drag&drop, and then hold down command and press the left arrow key. (Quicktime movies on any platform will play backward if you either hold down shift and double-click the video, or hold down metakey-left. Note that some more advanced sound codecs (such as mp3) refuse to play backward correctly, but you can convert them to more friendly formats.) The problem with this is you will have a short wait while it converts the cd audio internally into a format MoviePlayer understands.

Cut a styrofoam cup in half, keeping the bottom and discarding the top. Poke the spindle of your turntable through the bottom of the cup and affix a soda straw to it. Put a record on the newly extended spindle.

Now remove the headshell from the tone arm so that you can work on the cartridge. Remove the cartridge from the headshell and reattach it to the other side so that you can attach the headshell to the tone arm with the stylus pointing up away from the platter.

Move the counterweight back away from the fulcrum until it overweighs the tonearm/headshell/cartridge assembly. Start the turntable and let the stylus 'float' up into the groove.

Your record will play backwards and upside down.

  • On Linux systems, you can use ALSAPlayer to play both MP3s and Audio CDs forward and backward, at varying speeds. (Small note - it would only play VBR MP3s backwards from the point you've reached playing them forward.) I've tried it with MP3s succesfully, though the results weren't very interesting.
Many years ago, when I was working at WRPS, we had two turntables in the main studio that were mounted very close together. They were direct-drive with a connector on the motor that could be swapped 180°, and they also had tonearms that were freemounted, as in you could turn them any direction you wanted.

One gent wanted to play a complete show with records containing backwards-masking. Considering it was Halloween and the show was titled Metal Madness, I agreed to it. I assisted, and we used an old headshell and needle on one turntable for playing records backwards. We swapped the connector for the direct-drive motor, and the motor ran backwards at the correct speed.

We also had the new Van Halen album called 1984, and the first tune on the second side was a drum solo that sounded like a motorcycle. We decided to make the drum solo more interesting, so for the last tune of the show, we re-swapped the motor connector and played that song with both tonearms on the same groove. There was a good 5-second delay, and the timing was such that it sounded like Alex Van Halen had mutated into an octopus and was hammering away at his drum kit.

Apart from the expensive turntable- and computer solutions described above, here's what you can do with an old audiocassette:

  1. Rewind the tape. When you lay the cassette down with the tape-head holes towards you the full spool (with all the tape) should be on your left after rewinding.
  2. Unscrew the plastic case.
  3. Carefully take out the small spools holding the tape and lay them flat on the table. Keep the same flange of the spools up. (That is: don't flip them when you take them out of the case)
  4. Swap the spools in such a way that you do not flip them and be careful not to fold the tape. The full spool should now be on the right, but the same side should still be facing upward (Otherwise this would just be a cumbersome way of playing side B now, wouldn't it).
  5. Mount the spools back in the plastic case. Take care to properly lead the tape past all the capstan- and pinch roller holes as it was before you took it out.
  6. Carefully rewind the tape so that it rolls on the left spool correctly. Do it by hand if you're patient enough.
  7. Play and enjoy your Satanic message of choice!

Note that you are now playing the backside of the tape. Cassette tape usually isn't coated on the back so this is no problem. It might sound a bit dull though. Suggested listening: the breakdown in Vision Thing by the Sisters of Mercy has a nice backward sample. For some truely evil stuff (*sigh*) listen to the intro of Satan spawn: the Caco-daemon by Deicide.

Disclaimer: I will not be liable for any damages resulting from accidental invocations of Cthulhu, your deceased grandmother OR breaking your family-tapedeck.

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