All posts by Dylz

Hot Thoughts on Cold Earth

Hey guys, D again. Wanted to float some thoughts about Cold Earth, probably my fav track on TH.

First, some structural matters (check my work!):

Drum loop A enters at 0:42 and and continues through the melody’s introduction, repeating for 24 measures i.e. 4 phrases (save for dramatic pauses and sfx–sound of an old telephone being slammed at 1:23). Loop B then enters at 1:24 and repeats for 12 measures/2 phrases ending with a (radio-esque imo) vocal sample (1:42). Loop C then begins its 12-measure run, and at the midway point we hear that weird sound (1:54) [1]  heralding the introduction of the voices. Then we drop back into loop B (2:07–voice also says “zero” here), which plays again for 12 measures, then we’re with loop A again for 24 measures to the conclusion.

So A-B-C-B-A, roughly. Yet another palindrome.

Thematically this evokes evolution and devolution, perhaps the effect of planetwide communication on human society. The introduction of electric media was a relatively sudden event in human history–voices traveled through air that was empty just a few decades before. In the geological blink of a fly’s eye, everyone could hear everyone else, and good or bad, it was a point of no return for this species.  [2]

To approach it from another angle, the structure of the drum loops and transitions–especially the abrupt, thunderous turnaround at 1:54–also reminds me of the system of historical “ages” (think iron, stone etc) as poetically outlined in Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake.  [3] Each human age–separate in time, but paradoxically involving the same characters and situations–is punctuated by a great thunder which ushers in the next. Relate that to the shifting drum patterns and unchanging chord progression as you like.

[1] Ever since I read in this interview of the mysterious piece of gear that “cost [the boys] a lot of time and road miles to source” and resulting one-second sample, I’ve suspected the screechy groan at 1:54 is it.

[2] Anyone who hasn’t should check out the very important work of Marshall McLuhan–for more on the advent of radio, check out chapter 30, “Radio: the Tribal Drum,” from his Understanding Media.

[3] For a thorough if offbeat explanation of this, see here (timelinked to the relevant segment, though the whole lecture is a solid intro to the Wake). Ol’ BoCcast Mikey is a known fan of the Wake too, and we’ve discussed how it relates to TH in the past, so keep your ears peeled if pomo lit is your fancy.

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Recycled Sounds

The boys know better than to dump a good sound after just one use–recycled samples are not uncommon in BoC’s body of work, pre-Geogaddi specifically. Certain sounds, from vocal blips to extended loops, pop up in two or more different tracks, sometimes straightforwardly but often with a twist.

Turquoise and Orange Hexagon Sun share a complete drum loop; Whitewater and Sixtyten feature the same Sesame Street sample, though it’s reversed in the latter. And that one whispery flute tune shows up time and again in their work (ATP live track 3, Sixtyniner, website loop, A:B::B:C… etc?).

BoC were never shy about recycling tracks on multiple releases, either, and I think having recurrent elements jives with their early media-nostalgia aesthetic: reruns were just a fact of life in old TV days.

Check it out for yourself. The following are tracks featuring recurrent samples–chronological by each sample’s 1st appearance. Find em and then find all the ones I missed!

  • Random Track A06 / Seven Forty Seven
  • Random Track A08 / June 9th
  • Random Track A12 / Aquarius version 3 (thanks Cuddi)
  • Spectrum / Twoism
  • 5-9-78 / Oirectine
  • BMX Track / Hi Scores
  • Magic Teens / Sixtyten (believe me)
  • On a Rolling Sea / Orange Romeda
  • Turquoise / Orange Hex Sun
  • Sir Prancelot Brainfire / Sixtyniner
  • Seeya Later / Smokes Quantity
  • Telephasic Workshop / Live @ ATP trk 4

 

P.S. Hi I’m Dylz, golden-eared research associate of Mikey’s.  I’ll be dropping by now and then to share my own thoughts about the music.  Keep an eye out l8rrr guyz

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