Thursday, October 09, 2008

I'm mad as hell!

I've already addressed the following phenomenon in my recent review of the Don the Reader album Humanesque (read my review here), but I thought it deserved a slightly fuller examination. I recently realized that the Don the Reader track "Con-Sciolist" used a sample from the exact same speech from Network (1976) as Mouth of the Architect used in their recent album Quietly. After a lil' Googling I discovered that the instrumental rock band Maybeshewill also used a clip from the exact same speech in an album they released earlier this year. Here's the source material:

And the three songs that use it: 

Don the Reader - "Con-Sciolist" (from Humanesque) (sample at 3:02)
Mouth of the Architect - "Hate and Heartache" (from Quietly) (sample at beginning)
Maybeshewill - "Not For Want of Trying" (from Not For Want of Trying) (sample at 1:34)

Three instances of the same sample on three different records released within a five-month span. Surely this is a simple case of serendipity. There's of course nothing wrong with three bands having the same great taste in samples (I bet it'd be tough to find a single line from Scarface that hasn't been sampled on a rap album), and of course this speech is still as chillingly relevant now as it was 30 years ago. A sample can grant an insta-message where otherwise there might be none perceivable, akin to Berlioz or Strauss using published programs to "explain" their works. In heavy metal though, messages are usually so clearly and directly conveyed that samples seem a little pat if they're used for anything other than shock/hilarity, as with Mortician or Graf Orlock. In the case of the instrumental and mostly-instrumental Maybeshewill/Mouth of the Architect songs, can we view the Network sample as anything other than an attempt to imbue meaning where there otherwise is none? And is it a coincidence that the Don the Reader and Mouth of the Architect samples are both accompanied by soupy post-rock guitars, so often used to connote depth? 


Helm said...

Three instances of the same sample on three different records released within a five-month span. Surely this is a simple case of serendipity.

This movie was extensively quoted in the docu-opinion-film "Zeitgeist" which has been something of a minor cultural hit, especially in quasi-intellectual layers. The bands you mention seem like prime candidates for this sort of viewing so I'd attribute it there besides on the stupefying power of serendipity but that just may be me being grumpy.

Invisible Oranges said...

I'm not sure anger is the best response so much as disappointment. It's hard to get "mad" at bands for anything, unless they actually physically assault you or take your money or something. (Which, admittedly, some records feel like.)

I agree about the function of the sample for MOTA. I read an interview with them where they essentially said that it was a placeholder that stuck.

Etan said...

Helm - the Zeitgeist suggestion makes sense. I was unaware of the film until your comment.

Cosmo - You prolly realize this, but "I'm mad as hell" wasn't my own reaction to the tri-sample usage, it was a quote from the sample. The only times I get angry at bands is when they seem to not give a shit about their fans. Which, incidentally, is how I felt about the My Bloody Valentine concert.