digital download, self-released, 2007
“My Definition of Sound Vol. 1” (hereby “MDoS Vol.1”) is a collection of 39 instrumental tracks authored by Art of Sampling. None are longer than a few minutes, and most are even shorter. Some last less than a minute. It is, in essence, a beat record in the tradition of J Dilla’s “Donuts” (2006), and as such, remarkably diverse. Similar to the seminal hip hop release, “MDoS Vol. 1” contains an assortment of musical building blocks – brief but otherwise highly polished snippets of what could be incorporated into other finished tracks, or expanded to become larger compositions.
Detailed information about both artist and release is difficult to come by, and tracks seem to be nameless, leaving little else to discuss beyond the beats themselves. “MDoS Vol. 1” is chill to the core, funky from front to back. Blending styles in jazz, hip hop, trip hop and various downtempo influences, Art of Sampling takes a less-glitch-more-bass approach to IDM, and adds a liberal helping of pure lounge devices. Virtually none of this material is overly abstract, intrusive, skittish or weird; on the contrary, the beats remain just neutral enough to slip into the background, but just groovy enough to set the mind at ease. Taking audible cues from such artists as DJ Krush, Autechre, Sofa Surfers, The Future Sound of London, and, in one notable acid-infused instance, Luke Vibert, Art of Sampling sends listeners on a relaxing, subconscious ride. There is even a touch of Isaac Hayes or Barry White thrown into the jazzy mix. A certain nostalgia arises with the use of fuzz bass, soulful guitar funk and that unmistakable Hammond organ sound. Not to be limited to the Western tradition, one memorable track incorporates tabla drums, something that could have been explored further to favorable response.
“MDoS Vol. 1” is without doubt accessible, uncomplicated and appealing from the standpoint of lounge ambience, its jazz-saturated IDM flavor riddled with formative clues pointing toward Art of Sampling’s musical heritage. But its audience must keep in mind that it is not, by any means, an album in the formal sense. It is a beat record, a demonstration, in fewer than 40 installments, of inspiration, method and product. Ultimately, all it presents most armchair listeners with is what amounts to random playlist interlude fodder; and for that, it’s perfect.
— Dutton Hauhart