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The Samps

The Samps [EP]

[Mexican Summer; 2010]

By ; June 10, 2010 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Even though sampling has been staple in the music industry since recorded music pretty much began (see Musique concrete), it’s never got the attention it deserves. Sure enough those tapes of train sounds looping don’t seem like much now but they completely shook up the whole idea of what “music” was and could be. Flash forward about three-quarters of a century and you have records like Liquid Swords. Hip-hop always has always been notoriously linked with using samples to create music but Liquid Swords also showed how samples that don’t add to the music per se can help accentuate the mood and thematic element of the album as a whole. The use of samples still remains a constant in many genres from twee indie bands like Starfucker and their obsession with snippets from philosophy lectures to Burial and his manipulative effects on his tremendously deep and beautiful song “Archangel.”

Essentially what The Samps are doing on their self-titled debut EP isn’t anything groundbreaking but it’s still terrific fun. Cutting up samples from across the board they create a songs that stream like a band caught in a series of greatly successful grooves. But it depends on how you listen. Listen passively and you could be convinced this is just an instrumental band (not too dissimilar to the like of Starfucker with their joyous pop sensibilities) having a good time in the studio. Once you familiarise yourself with it though, it comes off as something totally different. You begin to catch onto the way a bass track is combined with a drumbeat from a totally different context.

As said, sampling isn’t new but it’s still a greatly underrated art form in the musical world. When you get your head around what’s going on here you begin to appreciate it not just for the countless grooves but the masterful work that has gone into making this the often seamless EP it is. If you want a more accurate point of comparison then I suppose you could bring up bands like 2manydjs as the songs here could essentially be classed as mash-up. But because the music is all taken from uncharted songs then you’d be right to congratulate yourself if you’re able to identify a sample use here.

At times it can sound a little erratic, like too many samples have been thrown into the mix (“Thys” or “Hyperbolic” on the first few listens) but it’s never off-putting. Casual listeners might not take too well to it as some tracks are screaming for a smooth vocal turn but in all honesty the songs manage just fine without any sort of vocals. The lack of voice may well actually be a good things as its absence allows for the nuances of the music to picked up more easily such as the way “Hyperbolic” blends and thus sounds as transient as it does.

Taking this music so seriously is probably a bad thing though. It’s just so easy to enjoy and take in over and over (the EP is a mere fifteen minutes long) that analysing it and considering its position in the history of sampling in music seem pointless. When the likes of “F.X.N.C” comes into full Technicolor or when “Yellow Jacket” hooks you in with its smooth hypnotic repetition you couldn’t care less about how it compares with what Pierre Schaeffer was doing back in the 1940s. Heck even the band’s name isn’t as ironically apt as you think it might be – it actually stands for South African Metaphysical Society according to their Myspace. Enjoying it as you bust a few shapes at a party or enjoying it as you try to dissect the point where new samples come into play during the song, the inevitable truth is that you’ll end up enjoying it some way or another.


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