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Pogo's Hypnotic Plunderphonics

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Pogo is  the stage name for Australian electronic musician Nick Bertke, who is known for sampling sound bites from movies and TV programmes, editing, looping and rearranging them to create entirely new soundscapes. Many of his tracks draw from Disney's long and storied catalogue, and 'Alice' (which references the 1951 classic Alice in Wonderland) is probably his most successful track to date:



'Alice' brilliantly captures the trippy 'down-the-rabbit-hole' atmosphere, with the vocals being repeated in a way where you can barely make out what's being said, leaving plenty of room for multiple meanings. Some of the following possibilities have been suggested by Youtube commenters:

'Mary sailed all the way/ to love the devil???' 

'Mary sailed all the way/ to love the depth of gravel??'

'Mary sailed all the way/ to love the [inaudible] Trouble!'

'There is a long way to love/ but I'm having trouble?'


Like the film, the track captures a child's attempt to grapple with something large, complex and incomprehensible (and vaguely sinister), amidst a distinctly dreamy Disney soundscape filled with chirpy supporting vocalists/characters.


As Kirk Bowman observes, Pogo "captures the film’s dreamy, unreal, tired feeling perfectly. Vocal samples are arranged in such a fashion that very little quite makes sense, although it feels like you’re almost getting it, just like the rabbit hole. The arrangements feel dazed and lazy but were obviously highly meticulously arranged. Ideas are repeated just enough to feel a vague sense of déja vu but not enough to feel overly repetitive. This release feels like the soundtrack that should have been, even though it is much more of a main feature than the background sounds soundtracks normally are" (Sputnikmusic.com, 2014). 


Its hard to put your finger down on the quality of Pogo's intertextual soundscapes. A.V. Club's Erik Adams provides a suitably lyrical evaluation, calling the track "a hypnotic distillation ...a woozy rhythmic confection wound around a pair of orchestral hits digitally stretched into atmospheric gossamer...it slathers an additional layer of lost innocence on ...Like the song’s “lead vocalist,” Bertke finds himself navigating an untamed wonderland, marveling all the while and occasionally turning up something strangely, enchantingly winsome."


'Strangely, enchantingly winsome' seems apt enough; if you're a fan of the Disney/Pixar aesthetic and up for some quirky sonic defamiliarization, I'd also recommend 'Upular' (from Pixar's Up) and 'Forget' (Pocahontas & Fantasia 2000). 


More reviews of the artist Pogo


Remaking Someone Like You

Since the success of Alice, music producer, remix master and plunderphonics expert Pogo (Nick Bertke) has been highly popular with animation…

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