Staff Top 10
Top Ten Sound Samples In Song

since the advent of electricity, microphones have played a role akin to that of Freud, eavesdropping on things no one had previously noted. Freud, in a wary and astute act of suspended hearing, listens for that which occurs amid the words: dot-dash chain of phonemes, swallowed rhythms, repressions and omissions. The microphones character goes so far as to mimic the analysts unruffled, promiscuous ear: impartial, tolerant, open to anything, yet at the same time erecting theories from stuttering machine hiss to whispered dialogue.

For this list, as the title implies, I have decided to choose only sound samples that swim through 'songs' like a skinny stream spills through a feral pasture. Given that sound samples may be employed in various manners, I've tried to cull examples from disparate fields.

Set Fire To Flames - Wild Dogs Of A Thunderbolt
One balmy afternoon I was shuffling down a side street, which gave onto Victoria's florid inner harbour when from behind me arose a strangled squeak of a voice, which struck my ear with an unexpected familiarity. My bobbling head jerked back and met a frantic person clothed in a denim jacket which in studded sparkle letters read "Jesus The Light" and whom, after squawking "This is all just so much bullshit", I recognized as the person responsible for the sullen voice which wanders through this piece. A pensive creaking of decrepit wooden floorboards gives unto a story of this man’s desire to endure this false life so that he might find eternal freedom where "then the suffering will be over".

COH - Silence Is Golden
This little fledgling wavers from unfettered, soggy electronic splutters and a spoken word bit of almost malicious gaiety. Immediately before the deep, gruff voice begins to implore another that "I could drown you in my sorrows, I could keep you safe from harm" and other such lines of poetic reverie, a faint voice may be heard whispering him his lines, as though a frail creature is perched atop his shoulder.

David Coulter - How Can I Love Thee?
Coulter's soprano saxophone accompanies an over-the-phone reading by Iain Morris of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poem of the same name. At times rueful, at others full of reproach, Morris' mumbles, stifled sobs and affected drawl leave this effort seeming all too real: full of late night languor and enervation this scowling suicide note is left waiting impatiently on someone's answering machine.

Shalabi Effect - Sundog Ash
A surreal swampland where sap trickles into a wooden bucket, someone stammers through a slovenly muck and birds chatter amongst themselves. This may strike someone as new age fodder, but the prepared guitar, oud and dense percussion lurch about are a tad too drunkenly for such a label to stay down.

John Duncan - Palace Of Mind
"Everyone carries a room about inside them". Though such words are not presented within this some fifty-minutes of evolving drone, they do speak to the metaphor being implemented here. Indeed, “Palace Of Mind” plays about with the notion of one's mind being like a palace, with ample proportions, high ceilings and cavernous dungeons. The listener is carried about from room to room, each with a resonance, timbre and subtle background events. Difficult though it may be to tell, a certain gusting wind or grave quiver blows through each of these rooms like stray thoughts that seem to wander of their own accord.

Andrew Chalk - Fall In The Wake Of A Flawless Landscape
Similar to “Palace Of Mind”, Chalk's most recent solo venture is dominated by a particular elusiveness, a reluctance to give away its origins. At first one may want to identify a croaking of ravens, something breathing noisily and several other bustling, frivolous sounds, yet, as moments pass you begin questioning yourself until you’re willing to let explanation leave your conscious mind.

The Wind Up Bird - This
Perhaps the aural equivalent of a rash tearing of otherwise adored photographs, a phone message upon which a cracked voice creeps out of a stolid silence, approaches delirium and gasps, "I'm sorry I've become this monster". As this message is looped her voice becomes discordant and a shell of its former self as sadistic doses of screeching, grains of noise are strewn across the canvas like a painter gone mad.

Basil Kirchin - Once Upon A Time
Wheezing vintage synths spin a beautiful web upon which a child gets entangled, spouting, "someday you'll see, something special will come from me." An endearing mix of free jazz and musique concrete that ends up forming something that is quite indefinable.

Gavin Bryars - Sinking Of The Titanic
Somewhat of a holy grail for many, this composition has romantic underwater hues and serves as a fitting aural tribute to the event that was the sinking of the titanic. In brief, this captures a taped reminiscence of one particular survivor and the sad chime of a salvaged music box.

The Appleseed Cast - Convict
The leaves which gust and dance with each other at the end of this song from Low Level Owl (Volume 1) has always been a favourite of mine. The song itself is a wistful church organ and Crisci's whispered words laced with faint religious metaphors. A fine metaphor in themselves, these bristling leaves at once signify the end of one song’s life and, as they drift into “A Tree For Trials”, the beginning of another.

By: Max Schaefer
Published on: 2004-08-13
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