1. MATMOS – WASHING MACHINE
Believe it or not, you can make a 38-minute piece of music out of a washing machine. That’s what Matmos have done, titling it ‘Ultimate Care II’. It was written entirely using sounds generated by a Whirlpool Ultimate Care II model washing machine in the basement of their home in Baltimore. Here’s an four-minute segment to whet, wash and rinse your appetite.
2. DIEGO STOCCO – LEAF AND TREE MUSIC
Italian sound-designer Diego Stocco lives in Canada and is well-known in sound circles for his innovative recording methods. Check out the below videos – the first of which has him bashing various parts of a tree to make music, the second of which sees him doing all sorts of stuff with leaves and a turntable.
music from nature
3. ASHWORTH – SLAG HEAP
Not many people would arrive at a slag heap and crack out their recording equipment. But that’s what field recorders Richard Green and Morgan O’Donovan did in Snowdonia’s slate mines in 2014, for an exhibition, which eventually led London-based DJ and producer Joe Ashworth to create this earthy chunk of techno.
4. OVAL – BELLS
Berlin-based Oval made the entirety of 1998 album ‘Dok’ using field recordings of bells from around the world. The challenge being, they said, that bells’ sounds have no ‘rhythmic index’ – no beginning or end, no sustain or release, like most instruments. By manipulating their ‘found sound’ files of bells and other environmental noises, they liquify the blocks of sound, which flow into one another hypnotically.
5. DEATH GRIPS – THE WILLIAMS SISTERS, VANCOUVER SKYTRAIN
You have to pay attention to catch these samples. The Vancouver Skytrain sample begins at 00:03 – basically as it was in the original recording – while the Serena and Venus Williams’ grunting comes in at 00:58, distorted beyond all recognition. Instead of being a decibel or two higher, it’s transformed into a wall of sound beating back any opposition. Hear it and the original noises below.
6. MEOW THE JEWELS – CATS
This is the internet-beating story of a joke gone rogue. On September 17, 2014, Run The Jewels said they would remix ‘RTJ2’ with cat noises if it would raise money for the families of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, two American victims of police brutality. Their successful Kickstarter campaign ensured that a year later, they had to follow through. It’s a remarkably silly creation, but there are plenty of fun facts – like that they used Lil Bub, the internet’s most beloved cat, to make some of the distorted purrs and squeaks on the LP.
7. CÉLESTE BOURSIER-MOUGENOT – BIRDS LANDING ON GUITARS
This French artist used zebra finches at London’s Barbican to create a special sonic art project. Whenever they landed on any of the instruments, she would capture their chirps as well as the sounds they produced by standing on the electric guitars, almost like a soundtrack to their daily activities. Almost.
8. FELIX’S MACHINES – HOUSEHOLD OBJECTS
Like Céleste, jazz pianist and electronics whiz-kid Felix Thorn makes installations. This one uses basic household items to make a sort of quotidian symphony.
9. GOLD PANDA – FIREWORKS, CHOPPED UP
‘You’, by Gold Panda (aka Derwin Schlecker) is made up of many, many samples. The vocal is a Indian track, pitched up. The percussion is for the most part his own, processed beat-boxing – drums and hi-hat – but at 2:02 some new percussion comes in, and it’s created with Japanese field recordings of fireworks, chopped up. Hear Schlecker’s own description of his technique in the NPR player below.
10. JON HOPKINS – FIREWORKS, SLOWED DOWN
On the other end of the firework spectrum is electronic producer and musician Jon Hopkins, who put the brakes on a recording of fireworks at the London Olympics ceremony in 2012 for his atmospheric cut ‘Abandon Window’. The firework explosion becomes a heavy, insistent haze that looms ominously underneath the song’s delicate piano, like some gargantuan, unseen sea creature.