We’ve selected our July CD of the Month and it’s by veteran English artist Banco de Gaia, the nom de plume of Toby Marks. You can read my review of Farewell Ferengistan here and listen to the show tonight (tomorrow in Philly).
Toby uses a lot of sample CDs on this album, something to which I usually object. But even though it sounds great on this CD, I called Toby on it in an interview this morning. You’ll hear that in a few weeks, but he admits to the problem of music losing its special aura when singular performances are cut and pasted from one tune to the next. We’re not talking about a note here, but entire melodies. I asked producer/bassist Bill Laswell about this a few years ago. He uses samples, but says that his are original samples and not the commercial Sample discs variety that Banco and countless other musicians employ.
Bill Laswell: “No, because I have all of them and I made a lot of them actually. But people are not stupid. The only people that use sampling CDs are the people that make music for television and you hear it right away and that’s because they don’t have time or money or budget to do it any other way. That’s why we make those sampling CDs, I think it’s for the television music people. There was a time where I could tell a sample from any record and I know other people do. People that know records, deejays especially it’s a very thorough and scientific art and they know where stuff comes from so you can’t fool them. I’ve always tried to make it a point to play directly with people and not just in my studio but in the village or wherever it is that they come from, and that’s not appropriate that’s direct. So I think that if you don’t do that, then you’re truly just decorating your music with someone else’s sounds or ideas.”
While I object to a lot of the sampled music out there, especially when it’s trying to replicate acoustic instruments or is actually a full on performance, I must admit to loving some of it as well, and Banco de Gaia is certainly among that group. I suspect most people don’t even notice or care that the pan-pipe sample or the Indian vocalese they hear on any of a dozen records is the exact same performance. But I do.