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Gesellschaft Zur Emanzipation Des Samples - Circulations

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Artist: Gesellschaft Zur Emanzipation Des Samples

Album: Circulations

Label: Faitiche

Review date: Jun. 26, 2009

The Society for the Emancipation of Sampling is an amorphous, deliberately hard-to-trace sound-nerd collective that advocates “financial backing and legal support in case of active breach of copyright associated with the process of sampling” via, in this case, “random recordings of pop songs played through the PA of a fairground carousel.”

On paper, it’s a merger of sound-collage and field-recordings. Its libertarian pretensions transcend nitpicky legalese – they eschew the knob-twiddling pretension that pop music can in any way thrive in a vacuum. Some of us listen to pop music through sound-canceling headphones (I once almost throttled a dude for referring to headphones as “cans,” but that’s something way outside the scope of this… a-hem), but the overwhelming majority of us experience most of our pop-music contact through the ambience of a crowd, or at least a congested freeway. The selection of samples here is MOR without being ironic; think U2, Michael Jackson, and deep cuts from John Lennon and the Beach Boys. On paper, it’s an intriguing study on how most brains actually tune in pop tunes.

I would forget about that, though, were I you. Because, at least to my ears, the samples on Circulations are almost always damned near undetectable. They are broken, abstracted and manipulated. And the “crowd ambience,” as much as I can distinguish it, sounds just as eerie and mechanical. It’s a work of abstract art with a palate consisting not of colors, but of themes.

If I had to compare it to anything (and that is, after all, why I’m pulling down six digits here), I’d call it an exponentially creepy version of Carl Stalling’s Warner Brothers cartoon scores. Encyclopedically (or whatever the adverb is for “Google”) well-informed and seemingly effortless, it translates a spectrum of popular tropes into a spastic mish-mash as disorienting as it is fun. It’s like Zorn, Zappa or John Oswald without the misanthropy. If it were a cartoon soundtrack, I imagine a lot of that cartoon would take place underwater, and a lot of people would watch it while stoned. Drugs!

By Emerson Dameron

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