Archive for the 'Hip-Hop' Category

The Origins of Sampling: The Light and the Dark

Today I bring you two of the earliest and most influential albums in the formation of sampled music…Except these albums come back from a time before sampled music became commercialized. Like any other genre, once sampling became popular, creativity and innovation went downhill. Now contemporary artists like Kanye drop a clip of Steely Dan into a song and people think they’re virtuosos. Instead, imagine entire albums being constructed purely of vinyl samples and you will arrive upon work of the Avalanches and DJ Shadow. These groups were the true virtuosos.

At first I did not mean to complicate the post with two artists but I simply cannot mention the Avalanches without also mentioning DJ Shadow. For me, these two are like Ying and Yang. And in a way, that metaphor perfectly distinguishes their sounds – Light and Dark. Which one should we look at first? Light it is.

2000’s Since I left You is the Avalanche’s only LP. And you’ll soon find out why – it took a paramount degree of effort to put together. The story has it that one day the band’s two main members, Robbie Chater and Darren Seltmann, were cruising around a garage sale looking for old vintage instruments. In their search they came upon a stack of hundreds of vinyl records being sold at bargain prices. After discovering some really cool riffs and beats while listening to many of these no name artists from the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s, Robbie and Darren started looping and sampling segments of the albums into single tracks. What began as an experiment soon became an obsession and Since I Left You slowly emerged from a pile of forgotten albums. Explains Chater, “the more rejected and unwanted the record that a sample comes from, the more appealing it is”…The band estimates that the album contains over 3,500 (!!!) different samples, ranging all over the place from drum beats and vocal cuts to recordings of horse neighing. From the opening track, the album is uplifiting in its positive, danceable vibe. Its many layers combine to create a rich pallet of buoyant optimism. I agree with the band in that the album sounds almost like a type of international love story – a lighthearted flirtation with the entire medium of music. Highlights include “Since I left You,” “Close to you,” “A Different Feeling,” and “Frontier Psychiatrist.” Check out a music video of the title track below, you cant help but smile.

If the Avalanches represent the light side of sampling, DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing is its darker, more moody cousin. Released in 1996, Endroducing is actually a couple years older, and is commonly held to be the very first album to be constructed entirely from samples. Similar to the concept behind Since I left You, DJ shadow compiles recordings from all over the place (old tv shows, jazz, hip-hop, etc) except his music has a much different story to tell. Shadow’s music takes on a much more Trip-Hop like sound, emulating and building upon earlier artists like Massive Attack. The dance-ability of the Avalanches is replaced with a brooding, contemplative outlook – the type of music you would chill to at the end of the night in a downtown loft. Even the name, DJ Shadow, induces listeners to investigate the darker aspects of life. It is a much more heavy and spiritual experience than the Avalanches offer – the type of album that has a time and a place but is always rewarding. You probably won’t be putting this on your party playlist, but it definitely should occupy a coveted spot in your music collection. Highlights include “Building Steam with a Grain of Salt,” “Transmission 1 (and 2)”, and my personal favorite (its sooo good) “Midnight in a perfect world.” Enjoy both these fantastic albums




Birth of a Blog

From the Fringe has officially become a reality – proof that my promises do hold merit…they just might not be fulfilled for a couple of years. hah. But hey, get excited. If this goes as envisioned, its gonna be pretty sweet. For those of you new to the concept, I’ve written a brief description on the “About us” page.

But here goes the first blog post. And what better way to start off than with some classic Roots? That’s right Illadelph Halflife, the 1996 Rap epic from one of Philly’s most accomplished and experimental music groups. The album itself is extremely diverse in content, style, and feeling (in a way a metaphor for what I hope this site will become). The Roots have much to explore, ranging from political and civil rights to simple, entertaining wordplay. But for me, the Jazz vibe is what makes the album. Its the perfect kickback record – lyrically serious enough to stand on its own but also relaxing enough to provide some chill ass background tunage. This is real Hip-Hop, with an actual band rather than sampled beats. I know the Roots have sold out lately by kicking it on Jimmy Fallon, but hey, we know its all about the 90’s Roots.

– Chris


*This blog does not upload or store any copyrighted music. The site provides links to, but is unassociated with, file hosting sites such as Mediafire, Megaupload, and Rapidshare. From the Fringe is intended to be used for music discovery purposes only. Please support the featured artists by purchasing their albums. - From the Fringe © 2010