Friday, June 08, 2012


This 1995 album, the second by American experimental composer David Shea, is constructed entirely out of samples played live.  Yep, no computer mashups here - he would trigger the samples on a keyboard, and could actually perform these pieces in concert. The sources are mostly instrumental, and range from classical orchestras to Indonesian folk jams. And that's just the first track.

The two tracks that use classic cartoon sound effects and music, "Screwy Squirrel," and "Tex" (named for animator Tex Avery), are what really made me want to seek out this album back when I read about it, but really, I was looking for any sound collage music.  It was hard to find in that period between The Great Copyright Clampdown of the early '90s and the turn-of-the-century post-Napster free-for-all. I would tape hip-hop dj mixes off the radio, or send away for John Oswald and Tape Beatles mail order cassettes. (Ah, the lure of forbidden fruit!) I don't recognize much of these samples, tho, so maybe that's how Shea was able to get away with releasing this.

But to give you idea of what's going on here, the track "Trio III," for example, features what sounds like traditional Middle Eastern chanting being brought startlingly up-to-date by a pounding techno drum beat. Then it gets all groovy '60s organ-a-go-go on us, before a jazz band crashes in, all honking sax and walking bass, and takes us to a tropical lagoon with some Martin Denny-ish exotica. And so it goes. Pretty dense, ADD-riddled stuff.


[After clicking the above link, scroll down for a choice of downloading options. You may have to wait a few secs.]

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