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  • Writer's pictureThom Holmes

Sounds of War

With all of the turmoil in the world I have been drawn of late to interpretations of war through the medium of electronic music. I’ve put together a podcast from the archives that represents the sounds and agony of war. Some of this music is based on themes of actual war, such as World War I, World War II, and Vietnam. But other works are about the inner conflicts and social wars that we wage with others and even ourselves.

We will begin with a Peel Session recording of This Heat performing The Fall of Saigon that is followed by a more contemporary techno work by Peggy Gou called Troop. Then we will hear several tracks David Jackman who created several works based on war sounds from the Imperial War Museum in London. We will then hear a recent electronic work from Bernard Farley, also known as Outputmessage from his album Love & War. Finally, I included one of my own works inspired by the documentary film about World War I, They Shall Not Grow Old (2018) by Peter Jackson, in which veterans described the massive amount of noise in which they were engulfed on the battlefield. At one point, one of them says it was a “world of noise,” so I took that as my inspiration for trying to create a sound environment that replicated that sensation.

Bernard Farley’s work in part of a longer piece that was created over four hours. I selected a 24-minute section called “War.Experiment 0001” for this podcast. In a recent conversation with Bernard, he told me how this work came about. Hear his comments in the podcast.

Episode 77

Sounds of War


1. This Heat, “The Fall of Saigon” from Made Available (John Peel Sessions) (1996 These Records). Composition and performance by This Heat. Recorded in 1977 for the John Peel Show at BBC Maida Vale Studios, London. 6:05

2. Peggy Gou, “Troop” from Art Of War EP (2016 REKIDS). Produced, composed, and performed by Peggy Gou. 5:53

3. David Jackman, “Flak” from Flak (2003 Die Stadt). 10", 45 RPM, Limited Edition. 6:00

4. David Jackman & Philip Sanderson, “Terrain” from Terrain (2002 Die Stadt). 10", Single, 45 RPM, Limited Edition. 6:31

5. David Jackman, “Wietzendorf” from Flak (2003 Die Stadt). 10", 45 RPM, Limited Edition. 5:35

6. David Jackman, “Machine Gun Fighting” from Machine Gun Fighting (2000 Die Stadt). Limited edition of 500 copies. Original sound IWM [Imperial War Museum] London. 8:18

7. Outputmessage, “War.Experiment 0001” from Love & War (2020 Outputmessage). Produced, composed, and performed by Bernard Farley (Outputmessage). 24:42

8. Thom Holmes, “World of Noise” from Interferences (2022 Wave Magnet). Produced, composed, and performed by Thom Holmes. The idea came from interviews with WWI veterans who described the experience of frontline battles as being in a “world of noise” for long periods. 16:42

Opening background music: David Jackman, “Adrift” from Terrain (2002 Die Stadt). 10", Single, 45 RPM, Limited Edition. 3:38

Opening and closing sequences voiced by Anne Benkovitz.

Additional opening, closing, and other incidental music by Thom Holmes.

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Electronic and Experimental Music

Notes on the development and continuing history of electronic music, its creators, and the technology.

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