THE EIGHTH WONDER: a new soundtrack for King Kong (1933)

To mark the installation of Nicholas Monro's King Kong sculpture as part of the Henry Moore Institute's City Sculpture Projects 1972 exhibition, we create THE EIGHTH WONDER, a new soundwork for the associated THE KING & I exhibition at &model.

THE EIGHTH WONDER is a collaboration between Alan Dunn, artists, writers, musicians and students from the sculpture's original home - Birmingham - and new temporary home in Leeds.

Click here to download MP3 (57.6mb) of final one-hour piece. Click here for Dropbox access to WAV versions of all thirty original contributions and final piece.

Click here for PDF of gallery wall print.

AD: "I always wanted to work with the 1933 King Kong soundtrack. I begin by extracting all the dialogue except for the one word that appears three times - LISTEN. From the original two hours, I am left with exactly sixty minutes of sound effects and some of Max Steiner's score. I simply divide this up into the thirty sections listed below, describe the sounds in them and invite people to select one to tamper with, to create new foregrounds for or to remove elements. I re-assemble the thirty treatments received from across the globe for first hearing at &model. Each contributor is offered the chance to provide a supporting text, also presented below in blue."


Section 1 SELECTED BY JACK WOLFF Opening salvo, morse code, paddle steamers, trumpets and romantic strings.
My introduction opens into a rhythm section followed by a breakdown into a fading drone. On reflection it's not so different from the original layout. I have simply exaggerated the wrinkles, textures and depth that already existed within the recording. I chose to loop a section that reminded me of the moody movie samples that mid-90s New York Hip-Hop producers pioneered the use of.

Section 2 SELECTED BY SCANNER Strings, feint laughter, silence, car horns, traffic and a cash register.

Section 3 SELECTED BY MICHAEL BOUCHER (LEEDS BECKETT UNIVERSITY MA ART & DESIGN) Ships loading, ship horns, The Venture sets sail, feint Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) giggle, waves, birds, feint Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) laugh and the word "Listen".
Music for segment 3 by Dylan Chambers.

Section 4 SELECTED BY DAVID STEANS The sound of a movie being shot, strings, birds, bell ringing, approaching Skull Island, distant drums and the word "Listen".

Section 5 SELECTED BY JAMES ADJEI (LEEDS BECKETT UNIVERSITY FINE ART) Louder strings and drums, landing on Skull Island in the fog, natives chanting, faster, furious, seeing the Bride of King Kong about to be sacrificed and the chant KONG KONG! KONG KONG!

Section 6 SELECTED BY LUCY BERGMAN End the chanting! retreat from Skull Island and whistling.
My section is the retreat from Skull Island, an attempt to leave the 'savagery' behind for the relative safety of the sea and ultimately 'civilisation'. I wanted to interpret the sense of creeping danger that this section of the film soundtrack conveys, a kind of approaching chaos like an unseen undertow beneath a seemingly calm and relaxed surface. The instrument is a broken Dulcitone, a small portable organ that would have been used on ships or by travelling church congregations.

Section 7 SELECTED BY NAOMI GILBY (LEEDS BECKETT UNIVERSITY MA ART & DESIGN) Back on the ship, steal the girl! doors opening, discover that she's missing, panic aboard, search and tribal celebrations.
I couldn't get past the lo-fi sound of the track and I was thinking about ways people record stuff in movie theatres, so I recorded the track from the tv into a dictaphone, then onto my phone, recorded again, recorded again from an SLR video camera, then again onto dictaphone then finally projected that MP3 from the TV again and this is the final recording.

Section 8 SELECTED BY SHARON FOSTER (BIRMINGHAM SCHOOL OF ART) Tribal celebrations with the girl, excited chanting and strap her to the sacrifice totems.
It’s a collage of sorts in that all the same raw material is there but it’s presented in a disorienting way. It’s also perhaps a nod to the fact that the film was made in pre-code Hollywood when filmmakers could pretty much progress in whatever direction they wanted.

Section 9 SELECTED BY NEIL MORRIN Prepare for sacrifice! Spiralling strings, trumpets and drums, bang the gong! Whimper, bang the gong!
Having grown up in Birmingham and seen Kong, this is the dramatic retelling of the story of a young boy hiding behind his mother's skirts, his moving towards the statue across the grassy park through the crowds.

Section 10 SELECTED BY LUST3R Tension mounts, Kong appears! Roar, trees flattened, SCREAM! he snatches the girl! Rescue party running around and screaming!

Section 11 SELECTED BY HARRY MILLS AND BINGNA WU (BIRMINGHAM SCHOOL OF ART) Scream! Roar! Make off with the girl! Ship party try to follow, natives scream! Ship party meet a dinosaur! Stegosaurus! Lucky they have bombs with them. Roar! FIRE! Beast screams and falls.

Section 12 SELECTED BY HANNAH DARGAVEL-LEAFE Look out, it's still alive! FIRE again! beast dies, ship party get to river and sail in fog, looking for girl.
I've kept the animal/monster sounds and bombs from the original soundtrack. The rest is sound I recorded on the jetty of a former whaling station in Iceland.

Section 13 SELECTED BY ERIN CAINE (LEEDS BECKETT UNIVERSITY MA ART & DESIGN) & CABBAGE Men on raft shout, tension rises, the word "Listen!", sea beast! Brontosaurus! FIRE! FIRE! men overboard, panic!

Section 14 SELECTED BY ALAN DUNN Man caught up tree, tries to fight beast off! Panic, Kong keeps moving with the girl, screams! They catch up with Kong but he flips them off the tree.
Excerpt from Bow Wow Wow's King Kong, slowed to 90%, from the 1981 album See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah, City All Over! Go Ape Crazy!

Section 15 SELECTED BY GARTH ERASMUS Screaming, roaring, Kong fights t-rex in a raw bloody gutteral battle.
A South African visual artist and musician based in Cape Town, Garth is an original member of Khoi Khonnexion, a group of First-Nation activist artists and also part of the free improvisation company As Is. This contribution was recorded at home with primitive methods including his home-made bamboo sax.

Section 16 SELECTED BY MARTI KIKOJAN (ESTONIAN ACADEMY OF ARTS) Kong in battle! Screeching and screaming, Kong protects the girl, the tree she is in collapses! Kong right hooks the dinosaur, leaps on its back and snaps its jaw, victory roar and chest beat! He looks at girl, girl screams, he lifts her and strides off.

Section 17 SELECTED BY DINAH BIRD Only two men left pursuing Kong and girl through the thick undergrowth, exotic birds cry, they stumble upon the dead dinosaur, music deepens and Kong heads further into the jungle.
KING KONG CAN. A group of rabid dogs and a couple of automated opera singers are left pursuing Kong and girl through the thick undergrowth, exotic birds cry, the dogs growl, they stumble upon the dead dinosaur, music deepens and Kong has no choice but to bite the head off one of the singers before disappearing further into the jungle.

Section 18 SELECTED BY JEAN-PHILIPPE RENOULT Kong strides on with the girl, snorting, he puts her down safely in his cave, a huge Elasmosaurus appears! Scream! Battle!
In my interpretation Kong fights with the Monster of the ID from Forbidden Planet… clash of the Titans!!!

Section 19 SELECTED BY LOUIS SCHEUER Kong-Elasmosaurus battle, rising music, then Kong beats it to death, victory roar! he lifts the girl, climbs higher into the night sky and places her down

Section 20 SELECTED BY LEAH HICKEY (BIRMINGHAM SCHOOL OF ART) Kong places her down, soft strings, whimpering, gasping, suddenly, he spots man! man hides, tension, Pteranodon attacks girl, scream! it lifts her away!

Section 21 SELECTED BY ADAM NEAL (BIRMINGHAM SCHOOL OF ART) Kong grabs bird and rescues girl, kills bird as man sneaks up and grabs girl, they climb down vine, Kong looks around, puzzled, sad, he grabs the vine! they fall! water! dramatic music and Kong furious!

Section 22 SELECTED BY BRUCE DAVIES Man and girl out of water, running through forest, Kong chasing! creak of huge door, Kong beats door! shots fired! Kong bursts in door!

Section 23 SELECTED BY ALAN DUNN Kong looks for girl, gets hit by bombs! screams and roars, terror, music builds, BANG!
Excerpt from Bow Wow Wow's Go Wild In The Country, slowed to 90%, from the 1981 album See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah, City All Over! Go Ape Crazy!

Section 24 SELECTED BY TOM CULLEN Kong hit! Kong falls! The beast is down! Cut to New York, fanfare, applause, more fanfare and applause, the beast is shackled on stage, snorting, looking around, scared, starts to break free, wait a minute, wait a minute, hold on! he thinks you're attacking the girl!

Section 25 SELECTED BY ANDY ABBOTT Kong breaks free!! screams, panic, run, carnage, Police sirens! Kong checks buildings, looking for the girl, screams, he climbs, he lets a girl fall, he finally spots her! smashes window, grabs her, man grabs wooden chair to fend him off but Kong pulls her bed to the window, he takes her and climbs, higher, higher, screams!

Section 26 SELECTED BY PAULINA KALWARSKA (LEEDS BECKETT UNIVERSITY FINE ART) Sirens, panic, chaos, BANG! SCREAM! smash! scream! fire engines and Police bikes shoot out from the depots

Section 27 SELECTED BY GINTAS K Screams! Roars! pace quickens, crowds gather, Kong returns to street, he grabs at a subway trains, rips the track as train appears, carnage

Section 28 SELECTED BY CLAIRE POTTER Tension, he climbs, airplanes hover, music rises, Planes! he climbs to the top of the Empire State Building, four planes circle, music builds, he places the girl down and climbs to the very top, roars!

Section 29 SELECTED BY PAUL WALSH (LEEDS BECKETT UNIVERSITY FINE ART) The planes close in, swooping, he swats at them, they circle and fire! the girl cowers. He snorts and grabs one! he's hit in the neck!
I read that after completing her scenes, Fay Wray spent a day in the sound studio at Culver City, recording a series of screams she dubbed her "Aria of the Agonies." In a pantheon of Culver City films, I choose Point Break, because for me I immediately recognised it had aeroplane sounds that echoed the original scene in the Kong film. In Point Break, the old Culver Movie studio appears as a bank during a robbery scene, that precedes the footchase by Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayzse.

Section 30 SELECTED BY ROSS SINCLAIR He's fading, he picks the girl up and gently places her back down, he's weak, he strokes her head, PLANE ATTACK! he's hit again, he slips, slides, he grabs his neck and sways and ... falls! Kong dead on the street, crowds gather, oh, no, it wasn't the airplanes, it was Beauty killed the Beast, finale