DOLCE Radio #3

DOLCE Radio #3: Unlikely Origins

The concept of recycling old recordings to create new music dates back at least as far as the ‘40s — when musique concrète composers began splicing and looping tapes as a compositional practice. But the process has evolved greatly since then, and today sampling is regarded as a foundational process upon which entire genres have been built.

The crux of any great sample-based work is, of course, its source. Old, rare, overlooked and exotic records are given new life in an updated form. In other examples, recognisable tracks and refrains end up reappropriated and re-energised — much like a remix or a cover version. In all cases, the process creates a fascinating relationship between the present and the past and across unique cultures and genres, creating new pathways through which under-appreciated creativity can be re-discovered.

Our third DOLCE mix for Radio LBB explores a variety of examples of sampling done right, with a playlist that reveals the unlikely origins of many classic and contemporary works.

Highlights include the classic rhythm and blues beat of Bo Diddley’s 1974 track ‘Hit or Miss’, reappropriated to underpin rhymes on De La Soul’s ‘Buddy’, from the trio’s debut album ‘3 Feet High and Rising’. The 1989 classic — which features over 60 samples from artists as broad as Johnny Cash, Funkadelic and Kraftwerk — is one of the most influential sample-based records of all time. It actually proved to be the album’s undoing — and even today, you won’t find the record on Spotify due to licensing issues that surround the many uncleared samples.

The ‘90s would prove even more fruitful when it came to utilising sampling as a means of creation. DJ Shadow’s ‘…Endtroducing’ (the first album to be created entirely from sampled music) and Portishead’s ‘Dummy’ became cornerstones of the downtempo trip hop genre, each one built, in part, on store-rummaged vinyl samples.

One of the most interesting cuts to emerge on the former was the 1974 Rhodes-and-guitar composition ‘Sekoilu Seestyy’, by Finnish musician Pekka Pohjola, which opens the single ‘Midnight in a Perfect World’. ‘Danube Incident’, a 1968 composition from Argentine-American composer Lalo Schifrin — best known for penning the ‘Mission: Impossible Theme’ — was likewise re-worked for the Portishead track ‘Sour Times’.

Hip hop lost an all-time great in 2006 when Slum Village producer J Dilla died from a combination of health conditions at just 32 years old — but he did manage to complete his final album ‘Donuts’ while working from his hospital bed. Alongside tracks that sample ESG, Beastie Boys, James Brown and The Isley Brothers, a noted highlight is  ‘Two Can Win’, built around a sped-up loop of the hook and vocals from The Sylvers‘ ‘Only One Can Win’.

Diana Ross, meanwhile, found herself at the heart of an entirely new genre of music in 2011 when Mackintosh Plus (aka Vektroid) used ‘It’s Your Move’ as the foundation for the “vaporwave” work ‘Lisa Frank 420/Modern Computing’, from the album ‘Floral Shoppe’.

Elsewhere, D’Angelo was part of a dubstep landmark in 2007 when ‘Cruisin” was re-assimilated by Burial on ‘Shell of Light’, while French-Caribbean artist Henri Salvador found new life via Four Tet’s ‘Two Thousand and Seventeen’. And the Empress of Soul, Gladys Knight, became a dancefloor staple once again via DJ Koze’s ‘Pick Up’ in 2018, while ‘70s R&B group Ace Spectrum were sampled by West London rapper Lava La Rue in 2021.

Enjoy the playlist — which features both the original tracks and the songs in which they were sampled — below.