Whispers from the “Wilhelm Scream”

Jeff Kolar, of the Radius broadcast, investigates a film artifact.

The “Wilhelm Scream” is one of the most extraordinary examples of cinematic afterlife in the sound library. The recording, made by Sheb Wooley (aka the man behind the novelty hit “The Purple People Eater”), has been used hundreds of times, including in Them! and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Jeff Kolar, the man behind the Chicago avant-sound broadcast Radius, often featured here, has used various transformative effects to explore the scream as a sonic artifact. The result is a study in gaping-maw static. There’s an ecstatic element at work, as something so closely associated with fear is itself put under the knife. The piece, simply titled “The Wilhelm Scream,” was created as part of an exhibit, And Then She’s Like, and He Goes, curated by Chris Campe, which opens today, August 9, at Columbia College Chicago’s Averill and Bernard Leviton A+D Gallery; it runs through September 6.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/jeffkolar. More on the exhibit at colum.edu. More on the piece and Kolar at jeffkolar.us. There are numerous collations of appearances of the “Wilhelm Scream,” including this one at youtube.com.

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