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The Train as Sample as Song as Memento (MP3)

Love of Tunnel: A still from the film that serves as the sonic source material for this “pseudo song”

Esbie has taken sounds from the widely praised subterranean documentary Undercity by Andrew Wonder and turned them into what she terms a “pseudo song.” The end result, which she titled “Undertracks” (get it?), has the elements of a song: beat, mood, and vocals, though the vocals aren’t sung, or rapped, but instead are comprised of select statements by Steve Duncan, the urban explorer whom Wonder tracks in his film.

Trains are a near constant in music, pop and otherwise: as sonic influence in the pacing of the blues, as metaphor in works ranging from Elvis Presley to Steve Reich, and, of course, as sample. Esbie’s response to Wonder’s film suggests itself as kind of souvenir. You can only watch the documentary so many times, and in so many settings, but should you have a hankering for it, this song serves as a compact and evocative, and respectful, memento.

Speaking of being respectful, it also serves as a meta enactment of copyleft creavity. Esbie reminds us in the brief liner note to her track that Wonder owns the copyright to the work she has sampled — but, of course, his documentary was a literal act of creative trespass.

Track originally posted by Esbie (aka Sarah Brown) at More on the Wonder-Duncan video at

By Marc Weidenbaum

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