Remix albums are ubiquitous, and sampling has become one of the fundamental techniques of electronic music. But how much do raw materials impact the end result? And given that a sample might simply be a prompt or starting point, why not take on someone else’s samples instead of your own?

Film aficionados routinely trade film – sometimes even double-exposing someone else’s roll, for unexpected results. Here, a group of musicians take on another artist’s samples, starting with 40 minutes of material by Forrest Reiff (Off Balance Atlas), shared on SoundCloud. The results are eclectic, sometimes exotic, sometimes chaotic, but well worth a sampling yourself. And if you decide to give them money, you can get a handmade cassette copy in the deal.

Forrest explains the project:

This album was initiated from an idea in my head to have other people hear the sounds that I sample and create their own interpretation of the source material. It’s not really a remix album because there is no linear path that any of the sounds were presented in..it is more a reanimation of raw crystal sound waves into a new gem fortress. The artists were not asked to use the material exclusively, but merely to implement it into the creative process. Thank you to all the producers who participated out of their sheer creative drive in the first round. May the future bring bright things for us all.
The album is being offered free of charge but if you donate $8-$10 you will be guaranteed a physical copy of the release in cassette format. Feel free to donate less if you just wish to support the idea and enjoy the digital album. I will be hand making the tapes initially but if the interest becomes great and I receive enough donations a full on pressing will commence and you will receive a “professionally” dubbed and printed tape…which will mark the first official skylight gymnasium records release. We live in an extraordinary world filled with vast stimuli and beauty…I humbly thank you for your interest in this project and possible endeavors of the infinite beyond.
-Forrest Reiff (Off Balance Atlas)

One of the participating artists, Judson / Sumsun, sent us a heads-up on the project and shares his impressions:

I really enjoy listening to all the artists interpretations of the material, you can hear a little bit of Off Balance Atlas or hear a bit that I almost sampled, but then the songs really sound like the artists using the sample.

He fills us in on some of the process and background, too:

It’s a lot of Roland SP sampling ([BOSS] SP-505 and [Roland] SP-404), cassette and mini cassette field recordings, random vinyl rips, hydrophones, analog and digital synths, you know, meat and potatoes type stuff. Then he sent the soundcloud page out to a bunch of friends and they sent it to their friends and it grew and grew. He started this months ago but just put the finished product up online. The label my project is on, Leaving Records, debuted it in a simple blog post:

http://leavingrecords.com/happening/sample-based-life/

Leaving is a small LA label owned by sonic wizard Matthewdavid and is a subsidiary of Alpha Pup Records (Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label is also a subsidiary of Alpha Pup).

The images here come from Forrest’s sampling setup, and I’m sure aren’t dissimilar from many readers’ noise-making closets.

SoundCloud was the means of sharing the files, for samples like this one:

Samplebasedlife (1) (DL able now) by samplebasedlife

SoundCloud and services like it, in turn, will be the subject of a lot of the hacking happening this weekend at the first-ever New York installment of Music Hack Day. I’ll be interested to see if that helps spawn more ideas like this.

On the other hand, you don’t need fancy technology; you could even mail a cassette tape.

http://samplebasedlife.bandcamp.com/

Tried something like this? Got a way of organizing samples, even for yourself? Let us know.

  • http://wordsoundpower.org midihendrix

    is the album ongoing? ie….is he encouraging artists/producers to reuse these samples in the future? and if so what is the license? (im guessing most/all of the samples are unlicensed as it is)…….

  • J. Phoenix

    Awesome!

    One of the best things about digital technology is that it not only erases the boundary lines between an artist and their audience, it allows musicians to collaborate freely, making location superfluous.

  • Jonathan

    It would be awesome to do this same exercise with synth presets instead of samples. Like walking into someone's studio and playing on all their instruments with the sounds they personally developed.

  • http://www.praxworld.com Will

    This is really great listening! Although it makes me sad that I'm hacking OAuth instead of Reaktor or something.

  • jimmie

    Love this very much!

  • lala

    yawn, why hack someone elses sounds when i can come up with something truly original in that time?

    i think im better off sampleing from my own stuff, no more remixes from me, waste of time

  • lala

    it sounds like old hip hop beat tapes from the 80's, come on guys, time to come up with fresh concepts

  • lala

    why cant people see that sharing phrases of sampled music is of little use?

    is everybody a dj these days?

    robert babicz shared some singlesounds (more like twisted waveforms) on soundcloud,

    thats the way to go

  • lala

    lol, i over read this: "physical copy of the release in cassette format",

    all my tapedecks are f***ed up, and sony's & harman/kardon's tapedecks are out of production.

    Buy now on shellack vinyl, only playable @ 78rpm!

    I wonder how many copies they are going to sell? 50? so everybody who contributed gets a copy?! 

  • http://howtomakeelectronicmusic.com Pete

    Not a bad idea. Sampling legally and with permission :)

  • Peter Kirn

    @lala: No idea what you're on about.

    They used sampling as a way of collaborating. It's a perfectly valid choice.

    Oh, and since you brought it up, I'm actually surprised that cassette players remain largely in production. They're still available at B&H, for crying out loud, e.g.:
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/188788-REG/

    Still a pretty nice medium.

  • http://indenti.ca/reverendgreg Greg

    @lala

    Do you call out people who still use "hand drums," too?

    Sheesh.