January 25, 2009

FORWARD THE SOUND










The sampler, one of the most revolutionary instruments since the invention of the electric guitar, was not only a key player in the evolution of hiphop and dance, it also spawned a whole new way of listening to records. I'm always interested in, or rather, intrigued by interviews with producers who unravel their "sacred" records when they talk about sampling (Wax Poetics makes for good reading on this topic), especially when those records turn out to be some sort of freejazz gems that are impossible to listen to (for me) due to the sheer noise and seemingly random rhythm patterns that features them. I'm intrigued because people actually buy these kind of records and listen to every nano-second of it not so much because they like the music, but because they are in search for that one little sound or break that hasn't been sampled yet. And although not all songs that have been sampled are worthwhile listening to, it's always fun to trace a sample because you never know what you might find. And that is the true art of sampling: it became a two-way street with producers on the lookout going one way and sample tracers going the other.

I'm not a hardcore sample chaser, really. Every now and then, when I listen to a record, some familiar sound may pop up that grabs my attention. If that occurs, I'll begin my search for the original, which basically involves me frantically scanning hundreds of 7"s and records because "I'm sure I've heard that sample before, but I just can't figure out what it is." Here are some of my recent findings. Who knows, maybe there's a gem in there you've never heard before?

Zomby - Spliff dub samples Billy Boyo - One spliff a day
Billy Boyo was one of the many teenage stars the Jamaican music industry has spawned. With some tunes released on the Greensleeves label his future was looking bright for a moment but unfortunately for Billy his (international) career never really took off. Billy died of a brain tumor in the year 2000, after which some more of his musical legacy was unearthed. The album "The very best of me" (released on the Jah Guidance label ) included his biggest hit up to to date "One spliff a day" which, although being an avid reggae collector, I only discovered after hearing the epical Zomby track: "Spliff Dub."

Burial - Broken Home samples Sizzla - Just one of those days
Dubstep superstar Burial has been making quite a name for himself with two albums full of beautiful tracks in which the human voice are key elements. The human voice keeps the cold, computerized tracks from freezing below the subzero level and gives a tune an often well deserved amount of emotion. In "Broken Home" Burial utilizes two tiny snippets of Sizzla's hit tune "Just One of those days" (aka "Dry Cry"), providing the tune its wings to fly with. In terms of approach the two tunes are quite the opposite of eachother, which makes it even more interesting to link them.

12th Planet - Control samples Mikey Dread - Saturday Night Style & Gregory Isaacs Allstars - Crops
12th Planet's banger Control uses two reggae tunes to provide the song with its seductive hooks. The "Control" bit is taken from the song "Saturday Night Style," the first tune of the most sampled reggae album ever: "African Anthem Dubwise" by Mikey Dread. This album was a showcase of his legendary radio show, in which Mikey never talked but used self produced "jingles" instead. These jingles ("you make me feel so goooood;" "Brand new, good for you!;" "Brothers and sisters goodnight, I hope you're feeling allright;" "Is that a turntable? Well get on it, it's your turn;" "You're disckjockey? huhuhuh, what's that?" and loads more) are still being used on a regular basis.

The keyboard part of "Control" is taken from a song called "Crops" (or "Crofs" as it is often credited), which is the dub version of Gregory Isaac's "Word of the farmer" from the Cool Ruler album.

ConQuest - Forever samples Barrington Levy - Here I come
This one took me ages to find. Forever by ConQuest, one of the most beautiful dubstep tunes ever, clearly leans heavilly on a Barrington Levy sample, an artist that has been a prolific "sample victim" from day one. But unlike all the other jungle, drum 'n' bass and dubstep tracks out there, using mainly Barrington Levy tracks like "Here I come", "Under mi sensi" and "Murderer," the vocal part in "Forever" didn't ring a bell, and yet, sounded strangely familiar Even hardcore Barrington fans, struggling with the same dilemma, couldn't identify it for me. In the end, though, I found the tune on the net. If you listen to the sample, you'll hear some heavy hissing which, I figured, may very well stem from an audience. After checking the net for Barrington live performances I found out "Forever" does sample the song "Here I come," but a live version of it, and instead of using the chorus, Conquest uses a part in which Barrington Levy rides the riddim in a brilliant freestyle, boasting about his woman: "She give me love."

The Qemists - Dem Na Like Me sample Morgan Heritage - Uncomfortable
"Stop that train, I wanna get on, my baby she is leaving me noooooow.." It was a rocksteady hit for Keith & Tex in 1967, was an international smash in 1982 when Clint Eastwood & General Saint launched their remake of it, and it was again heavily in rotation in 2004 when the Big Yard label released a stunning one-drop version of it: Stop that train is one of those riddims that never seem to fail.

The 2004 edition of the riddim enjoyed its biggest succes with a Morgan Heritage cut, called "Uncomfortable" (aka "Hail up the lion") which is exactly the version that can be heard in the Qemists (featuring Wiley on vocals) hit "Dem na like me" which is hitting it big right now. You can hear the guitar part quite well, but listen carefully and you'll also hear the "ow!" part with which Morgan Heritage start off their tune.

Probably more to come in the future!

January 13, 2009

RETURN OF OF THE BOOGIE










Last year I wrote about famous dubstep producer Skream hitting it hard and surprising the hell out of his listeners, when he decided to play a disco and boogie set on one of his Rinse FM Stella radio sessions. At the time it seemed like he was the odd one out, a lonely soul with a taste for late 70's/early 80's disco 'n boogie, but the last couple of months the disco sound is resurfacing more and more often. Either in its original form, most notably sported by Danish producer and dj 2000f, or in an updated style: a synth laden kind of dubstep that's been getting a whole lot of support in the scene lately.

Bristol based youngster Joker is one of the key players in the latter category. His sound is created by a whole heap of fat, blazing synthesizers that are literally on, and over the top of everything. What his sound may lack in thick, heavy (wobbling) bass, is more than made up for by such outgoing and, dare I say it, corny melodies and arrangements that truly haven't been heard in this extravagant form since the day the boogie was still legal on the dancefloor. Like disco, the new disco influenced sound proved often to be too extravert for many hardcore dancefloor lovers, but it's also gaining the dubstep scene a bunch of new fans who seem to be taken in by the melody, the more uplifting sound (whereas older dubstep is raw, dark and a bit evil) and the openess of the songs as a whole. A Joker song like "Snake eater" could very well pass as a disco-hit remix: It screams, sighs and invites; it's just over the edge but not too far and it's incredibly sticky. Once heard, it'll remain in your heart and your mind for days on end. Again, like disco, that can both be as annoying as much as it's fun. And that makes it a proper hit.

Taking things even further is Copenhagen based 2000f. Like Joker, this versatile producer is utilizing the heavy synthesizer sound as well, although he tends to mix it down a bit further. 2000f is somewhat of a pioneer in the dubstep scene, he was one of the first outside the UK to pick up on the new sound from south-London, but none could have guessed he would be as far ahead of the times as he recently turned out to be. His epic "You don't know what love is" tune (co-written an co-produced by JkaMata) is due to come out on the Hyperdub label, is setting the world on fire as a dubplate, is eagerly awaited by many, many fans and....is two years old already. With the resurfacing of the synthesizer sound in the dancehalls, the tune, available as dubplate only to a small group of lucky ones, proved to be some kind of missing link and was finally understood for what it really is: ultra funky, proto-dubstep disco. Call it whatever you want, the tune is so good it comes as a surprise to me that no one, not even outside the dubstep scene, was interested in it at the time of birth. Guess it's aquired taste and it needs some maturing? Funilly enough, for all it's popularity and long stretch, the tune now seems to be guarded to the extremes because it is nowhere to be found on the net, accept in a few mixes here and there. Watch out for the proper release and make sure you listen to it by then.

To complement the "new wave of funk," and perhaps encouraged by Skream's Stella disco session, 2000f has unleashed a series of oldie-disco mixes that are a must have for anyone who's into disco, funk, house, proper mixing and good music in general. Three mixes have surfaced so far, but more will undoubtly follow. And if that is the case, I'm praying 2000f includes Donna McGhee's "Do as I do" somewhere. All 10 sighing, whispering, moaning and excellent minutes of it...

Untill then we'll make do with volumes one, two and three of 2000f's excellent Fyraftensboogie series. Download them here:

Part One
Finis Henderson - Skip To My Lou
Jackie McClean - Doctor Jackyll and Mister Funk
Grey and Hanks - You Fooled Me
Patrice Rushen - Number One
Slave - Stellar Fungk
Central Line - You Know You Can Do It
Tom Browne - Funkin' For Jamaica
Don Blackman - Never Miss A Thing
Trouble Funk - Good To Go (instrumental)
Rick James - You Turn Me On
Precinct - Shining Star
Odyssey - Inside Out
Mystic Merlin - Just Can't Give You Up
Syreeta - Can't Shake Your Love
Funkadelic - (Not Just) Knee Deep
Fat Larry's Band - Act Like You Know
D-Train - Keep On
Shirley Lites - Heat You Up (Melt You Down)
Yvonne Gage - Doin' It In A Haunted House


Part Two
Light Of The World - London Town
AM-FM - You Are The One (Instrumental)
AM-FM - You Are The One
Junior - Mama Used To Say (American Remix)
World Premiere - Share The Night (Club Mix)
Edwin Birdsong - Son Of A Rapper Dapper Snapper (Dub Mix)
The Dazz Band - Single Girls (B-Beats)
Ex Tras - Haven't Been Funked Enough (Ex Tras Special Version)
Savana - I Can't Turn Away
Conversion - I Can't Stop Dancin' (Dance Version)
Ohio Players - Fast Track
Inner Life - Let's Change It Up (Extended Version)
Brooklyn Express - (Spank) Sixtynine
Al Hudson & The Soul Partners - Spread Love
Johnny Hammond - Los Conquistadores Chocolat├ęs
Al Johnson - I Got My Second Wind
George McCrae - I Get Lifted


Part Three
Kool & The Gang - Summer Madness (live at the Rainbow Theatre in London, England)
Don Blackman - Holding You, Loving You
Eddie Kendricks - Intimate Friends
Con Funk Shun - How Long
Aleem feat. Leroy Burgess - Think
RAH Band - Cloud Across The Moon
S.O.S. Band - Just Be Good To Me
Kinkina - Jungle Fever
S.O.S. Band - High Hopes
T-Connection - Saturday Night
Kongas - Anikana-O
Jeanette 'Lady' Day - Come Let Me Love You (Instrumental)
Trouble Funk - Trouble Funk Express
B B & Q - Riccochet (Club Mix)

January 02, 2009

Groovy Movie Mix 1966-1976









Happy New Year everybody!
The first new mix of the new year features groovy soundtracks from 1966 till 1976, all recorded straight from crackling black wax. Blaxploitation mixed with raunchy European stuff, some of the movies you undoubtedly already know, check out 70 minutes of their sounds below. Including rare movie samples!

Once Upon A Time In The West - Man with the Harmonica - Ennio Morricone (RCA 1969)
The Spook Who Sat By The Door - Revolution - Herbie Hancock (UAR 1973)
Black Belt Jones - Main Theme - Dennis Coffey & Luchi de Jesus (WH 1974)
Truck Turner - Main Theme - Isaac Hayes (Stax 1974)
Shaft in AfricaTheme - Johnny Pate (ABC 1973)
They Call Me Mr TibbsCall Me Mr Tibbs - Quincy Jones (UA 1970)
Gordon’s War - Hot Wheels (The Chase) – Badder Than Evil (Buddha 1973)
Slaughter’s Big Rip Off – Slaughter Theme – James Brown (Polydor 1973)
La HorseSerge Gainsbourg - La Horse (??? 1969)
The GodfatherTheme - Nino Rota (Paramount 1972)
Un Homme et Un FemmeTheme - Francis Lai (UA 1966)
Trouble ManMain Theme – Marvin Gaye (Motown 1972)
CoffyCoffy is the Colour - Roy Ayers (Polydor 1973)
Foxy BrownTheme of Foxy Brown – Willie Hutch (Motown 1974)
Sandokan - Instrumental Theme – Guido & Maurizio de Angelis (RCA 1976)
DaktariTheme – Shelly Manne (Atlantic 1967)
UptightChildren, Don’t Get Weary - Judy Clay (Stax 1969)
Turks FruitDat Rooie Mistige Beest - Rogier van Otterloo (CBS 1974)
Emmanuelle Emmanuelle Song – Pierre Bachelet (Warner 1974)
Superfly - Gimme Your Love – Curtis Mayfield (Curtom 1972)
The MackBrother’s Gonna Work It Out - Willie Hutch (Motown 1973)
Shaft - End Theme – Isaac Hayes (Stax 1972)