Sunday 17 October 2010

Chin11: The Superfools

16 directions in sample music by James Melendrez, AKA The Superfools....

"There's nothing wrong with emulation", as the track goes. Emulation has become, to a degree, almost inevitable in the world of sample music, where recurring stylistic motifs and juxtaposition techniques have settled into a recognisable, and effective, language. The plunderphonics movement and associated artists created and developed this language through the 1980s-1990s, stylistic innovations often running parallel to technological developments.

The German sample composer Vernon Lenoir (who will also release shortly on Chinstrap), once described the contemporary approach to sample composition, with reference to the effect of versatile sequencing technologies, as "music without limits" - that's to say, music that can be constantly shapeshifted, seamlessly transformed, with endless possible permutations not allied to any stylistic school.

The music on this album, by James Melendrez AKA The Superfools, sits on the border of "traditional" plunderphonics style sample music, and something altogether more personal and idiosyncratic. The "Exercise" pieces are comic juxtapositions of work-out records with easy-listening, but achieved with a grace and finesse that renders them hugely listenable. "Mary's Popins" takes a nostalgic conversation between Julie Andrews and songwriter Robert Sherman and delicately cuts it into a subtle absurdity. Vitally, all of The Superfools recordings hum with the crackle of dusty vinyl.

Altogether more strange and personal is the epic "Getting Along With The People You Love", which takes a field-recording of a language lesson and layers it with circular, melancholy Spanish guitar loops, with occasional interjections of colour from a dizzying array of sources. "Fever (Flu Shot Mix)" slows down an acapella of Peggy Lee's finest moment, combines it with slow delayed, reverb-laden electronic drums, and through these simple means creates something wrought with tension and highly effective as a piece of music.

The Superfools are also adept at the construction of new and interesting melodic material through the processing and juxtaposition of samples, transforming the sources into something unrecognisable. In these areas, the sample music becomes something more abstract, purely "Musical" and not connected with "Context". Vitally, The Superfools is not a particularly satirical samplist - which is what separates this from a lot of plunderphonics. This is music for the sake for music. Which is, of course, no bad thing.

So sit back, pop a bottle of wine, and immerse yourself into some super foolishness courtesy of The Superfools.

Read an interview with The Superfools at Some Assembly Required.

Like this? There's lots more where that came from...

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