Gobby pitchfucks a Nick Drake classic into a demented freak-funk nightmare
Source Material encourages investigation into the origins of songs, albums and films. Adaptations, cover versions, sequels and remakes are open to inquiry and scrutiny, enabling us to evaluate the changing shape of an idea through various forms.
Sample-based musicians creatively hover their tentacles over our cultural lineage, repurposing found sound in an attempt to create something new. Hip hop built its foundations on the art of sampling, notably reworking soul and funk to craft groovy beats for rappers to spit their rhymes over.
But few artists have been able to successfully manage a career from sampling — the legal and technical complications are just the tip of the complex sampling iceberg. Artists like The Avalanches and DJ Shadow developed monolithic masterpieces wholly comprised of samples, though few others have created sample-based records of such grandeur. Girl Talk’s mashup albums rekindled the debate surrounding the validity and legality of sample music, but the genre has struggled to maintain constant critical or commercial headway, despite escalating intrigue emerging from the genre’s periphery.
Enter Gobby, a producer and artist of questionable form quietly developing as one of the leading masters of sample-based technical fuckery. His incredible Wakng Thrst For Seeping Banhee is a spunky mess of noise and nonsense, comprised almost entirely of pre-existing music.
Aliens like Gobby (see also: D/P/I, chushi, C L E A N E R S and Jónó Mí Ló) gladly magnify musical moments, turning five second grabs into micro-symphonies. The Gobby track “Snitchy Beluga” reassembles a few bars of the Nick Drake song “Which Will” – from his stunning album Pink Moon - into a demented freak-funk nightmare.
“Snitchy Beluga” is not exactly a remix per se – remixes are usually associated with dance music – and is not quite vaporwave or plunderphonics either. The song occupies a weird space; layers of acoustic guitar and vocals ooze over one another, pitch bent and chopped up beyond recognition. Eventually, the cacophony develops into a groove, led by strange snippets of fingerplucked acoustic. A minimalist beat slowly wanders in and grounds the airiness, transcending the track to a higher, wilder place.
“Snitchy Beluga” really is something else altogether — an exercise in post-structuralism, perhaps – and unlike anything else on the record.
Oftentimes, sample-based music prides itself on obfuscation. Of the thousands of samples used on Since I Left You and …Endtroducing, few are recognisable to the average listener. Contrariwise, vaporwave’s motive is bent on repurposing cultural trash – taking something forgotten but recognisable and recreating it as something beautiful or frightening. The Nick Drake sample is neither obscure nor trashy; it is a recognisable song from a critically and commercially established artist, reworked into something alien, barely resembling its original form.
With an entire history of music at one’s disposal, sampling possibilities are virtually endless. Why bother attempting to create something new from scratch when pre-existing sounds can be reevaluated and manipulated into entirely new and original forms? Like space and time, sound is infinite: a one second handclap can be broken down into an infinite number of minute sounds. Pitch bending and adjusting speeds add the remixer’s originality to the grab and obscures the genesis of the sample.
It is likely no future pop song will ever boast melodies as catchy and original as Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday” or Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights”, so why not reduce these tracks to their components and hone in on the gorgeousness of their infinite parts?
Taking a song, or sound, out of its context further enhances this reinterpretation. Surely, Nick Drake couldn’t have conceived his music existing alongside acid techno and electronic psychedelia. Despite minor similarities between Nick Drake and Gobby — mysterious solo artist, drug influenced, understated, etc. – the pair couldn’t be sonically further apart. Why Gobby even chose Nick Drake at all is another question surely beneficial to ask, but perhaps one worthy of more personal investigation.
Regardless, Gobby’s reevaluation – or whatever it should be called – of Nick Drake’s “Which Will” is a fascinating take on the art of sampling and of recycling old material, and a look into what the future of music could look like once all original melodies have already been written.