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.


by Bliss Drive Review