As music production becomes more and more accessible, and at a time when it seems music is at a crossroads between older, sample based styles, and newer, synth orientated sounds, even casual music listeners are becoming more and more interested in the roots of the music they love. The internet makes it easy to discover […]

As music production becomes more and more accessible, and at a time when it seems music is at a crossroads between older, sample based styles, and newer, synth orientated sounds, even casual music listeners are becoming more and more interested in the roots of the music they love.

The internet makes it easy to discover where that jazzy bass line originally came from, or which obscure 70s funk band those drums were sampled from. In a way this is a great thing, because it reintroduces the art of sampling to a newer, possibly less interested generation, raised on tinny, factory sound bank snares.

What I don’t like about it is the extent to which it opens up the identity of what were previously rare and sacred records; hidden gems of musical history. I have very happy memories of the first time I heard David Porter’s ‘I’m Afraid the Masquerade is Over’, and the numerous samples that lay within. I had been given a box of 45’s by a family friend who knew I was into record collecting, and, not knowing the value, I received a priceless box of absolute nuggets.

I put the record on the turntable, and sat back. The instantly recognisable hiss and crackle of the aged vinyl played out of the speakers for what could have been the first time in many a year. Little did I know that over the next few minutes, I would be jumping around in excitement, looking at my friends’ amazed faces like we’d just found buried treasure. I won’t spoil it for those of you who might want to check out the track, but straight away an instantly recognisable sample greeted our eardrums. It was a precious few moments as the familiar piano keys and base line played those few seconds which, thousands of miles away, and over 15 years earlier, had obviously excited someone else so much that they went and looped it up.

We sat there for a few minutes, amazed at what we had just heard. Not one, not two, but three samples we recognised. What else did the shoebox of wax have in store for us?

The David Porter track itself isn’t a classic piece of music in my opinion, but it’s what it represents that inspires me to write this. If someone were to search for one of the sampled tracks online, they might well get just as excited as me and my friends did, but they will know it’s coming. That feeling of connecting the dots as you listen – like a face you recognise but don’t know exactly where from – can’t be replicated, and the art of record collecting and sample searching – digging through hours of terrible music just to find a kick, a snare or a loop – is lost a little more.

Keep digging people! Those charity shops have got gems just waiting to be found…

Joe Baker, a.k.a Zeeni, is a DJ born and bred in Sheffield. He runs a monthly night at The Harley called Vibes & Stuff.
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Joe Baker.