Breaking Down Bandcamp: Reviews of Free EPs, Part II

by Lydia Felty ’17

As I perused Bandcamp one day (see my first post for reasons behind that), I stumbled across Pogo, an Australian electronic musician who takes samples from a variety of sources and splices them together to form songs, using, for the most part, nothing but clips from the films or scenes he finds. I honestly don’t know how I hadn’t heard of him before now, but I’m glad that’s changed. Although he only has two free EPs on Bandcamp, they’re well worth the listen, and much of his other work is available on Spotify.


Wonderland (2007)

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Favorite Track: “Unbirthday”
Album Details: 4 tracks, 12:10

It’s hard to explain how perfectly Wonderland captures the spirit of Alice in Wonderland. The fact that the songs are composed of sound bites from the 1951 movie of course contributes to their essence, but Wonderland could have gone horribly wrong in the hands of a less-skilled musician. Thankfully, Pogo expertly weaves the clips together to create entrancing beats and melodies. When listening to “Lost,” listeners can get the impression that they are wandering around Wonderland alongside Alice, whereas “Bread and Butterflies” has a more upbeat tone with its repetition of the phrase “painting the roses red” (a clip also used in “Unbirthday”). “Alice,” the first track on the EP and Pogo’s most popular song on Spotify, provides the perfect introduction into his depiction of Lewis Carroll’s fantasy world. As unclear vocals pour out, only the music is left to give listeners an insight into what feelings the song should be eliciting. Similarly, much of “Unbirthday” remains indistinguishable despite a couple of clear lines by the tea party goers. It becomes especially interesting, then, that most of the clips Pogo uses are of speech, then rendered unintelligible by the layering and cuts. We could theorize for hours the implication of this method, but it would do little other than affirm the skill with which it is done. No matter the method to the madness of WonderlandPogo does an incredible job of presenting the themes and tone of Alice in Wonderland in a neat, contemporary package.

 

Weave and Wish (2009)

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Favorite Track: “Mending”
Album Details: 5 tracks, 16:19

Sampling from everything from musicals to Harry Potter, Weave and Wish gives off a much different tone than Wonderland, despite the same style of crafting. To be quite honest, I was a bit disappointed by it after listening to Wonderland. Although Weave and Wish is still extremely well done, Wonderland oozes with the themes and attitudes embedded in Alice in Wonderland, while Weave doesn’t quite embody its sources to the same level. Despite that, the songs are delightful. The track “Alohomora” is especially fun with its use of clips from the first and second Harry Potter films. My favorite section rests in the broken-down version of Dumbledore’s layered announcements: “472, second place, another year, second.” The song also includes a spell that was supposed to turn Ron Weasley’s rat yellow, as well as clips from Harry’s visit to the wand shop Ollivander’s, one-liners by Hermione and Ron, and the infamous line, “You’re a wizard, Harry.” “Under a Spell” starts with an electronic beat similar to that of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend”—which would come out the year after Weave and Wish—before using clips from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s “Doll on a Music Box,” accompanying the lyrics with a standard crank noise that implies the winding up of a music box. In an interesting comparison with the rest of the EP’s songs, “Under a Spell” almost gives the impression of a standard song with its more consistent tune and sensical lyrics. “Mending” uses a clip of “Who Will Buy” from the musical Oliver! and although I’ve actually never seen the musical, the song enchants me, pulling me in with upbeat background music and light vocals. No matter your interest in magic or any of the films from which the EP draws, Weave and Wish is definitely worth a listen: it may not have the bewilderment and madness of Wonderland, but its merits far outweigh any negatives that could be found.

Check out Pogo on Bandcamp and his website.