A couple of years ago I picked up an album by Pablo called Turntable Technology.
Raiding a junk box of records, Pablo alias of Glasgow’s Michael Hunter, created an album that is fun, intelligent and most importantly a cracking good listen. Piecing together children’s story books, with funk, jazz and rock samples with traditional instrumentation that he’s played himself, he’s created an album that blurs an astonishing array of genres and tells the story of Pablo.
It would be somewhat of an understand statement if I were to say Sampling changed the entire way music is made, I’d also be about 20 years late in saying it, but I struggle to think of a single musical form it hasn’t had a profound effect on, be it classical music or jazz, hip hop or techno, somewhere in there you’ll find sample based manipulation is present in the creation process.
What I really love is when that process becomes the overriding reason for making the music, obviously the ends must justify the means and a rubbish song built from samples is still a rubbish song. But for me there is always a wide eye sense of amazement conjured up when I hear someone piece together a patchwork of samples into a coherent piece of music.
Maybe it’s the frustrated musician in me looking for recognition but I honestly think it’s one of the hardest ways to create music. The general opinion of sampled based musicians is they just take a bit of someone elses work and loop it, and yes, while some people do some don’t and again I maintain the end result justifies the means. Sampling for me seems to have been forever looked down upon by more traditionally trained musicians but I think people underestimate the frustration and pain involved in crawling through 100’s of records looking for one 2 second sample to complete a track.
Over the years there have been producers who have taken this ability to hear things and piece them together to new levels. Hip Hop is an obvious reference point, and again within that when you study the work of producers like DJ Shadow, Premier, Prince Paul, El-P, RJD2, you can see the pain, suffering, knowledge and mental anguish that goes into creating a track.
Looking further afield my favourite example of pure unadulterated sample mangling is the Avalanches album “Since I left you”, years in the making it’s a symphony of bargain bin music.
And this ability to take small elements and build something is an artistic skill that is so often underestimated.
Anyway, the album has come back to my attention because Soma have re-released two of Pablos stand out tracks Turn the page from Turntale Technology and Stratus and both have been remixed, by Andrew Weatherall and Alex Under, both are amazing, but I’m actually going to plump for the original version of Turn the Page, as it’s fun and essentially a great way to start the weekend.