Hannes Liechti – This Track Contains Politics, The Culture of Sampling in Experimental Electronica


Norient Books, ISBN 978-3952544426, English, 355 pages, 2022, Switzerland

The importance of sampling and the curation/selection of samples has been discussed at length, especially in cultural fields such as copyright studies and remix studies. Liechti, however, engages with two timely contexts in this open access book: the musicological and the political. After giving the reader a crash course in the history of sampling, from its origins to current ground-breaking work in “post-sampling”, where sources are effectively hidden, Liechti explores five case studies released between 2015 and 2017. The embedded sampling strategies analysed include the Northern American Sacred Harp tradition, Armenian heritage, an online database, a controversial documentary film and the military conflict in Eastern Ukraine in 2014. After identifying seven dimensions that deal with “sampling and the political clash”, Liechti focuses on two that deal with music production. Here, sampling consists of either material that can be understood as political, or material with a broader political intent, and which is produced from external sound materials. According to “Seismographic Sounds” [1], an earlier book he co-edited, Liechti uses sampling to define the “seismographic substance” of popular music, helping to determine what is now a very simple technical act, but which has important consequences in our constantly mediated reality.