Few folks can continually chart adventurous paths in electronic based beats - much less brilliantly harness the improvisational energy of free jazz and acoustic beauty of folk. (Much less boast the singular distinction of having both remixed Madvillain and been remixed by J Dilla!) But Kieran "Four Tet" Hebden is far from your average tracktician. The UK artist/producer's resume includes everything from reworking Radiohead to acclaimed collabs with late, great jazz drummer, Steve Reid. Needless to say, the man knows his way around a sample. And with a new album, Pink , dropping later this month it was only right we hit up this esteemed, long-time fan of our sample flips series for a serious (sorry, couldn't resist) sample flips list of his own that reflects the depth of his knowledge and diversity of his ear.
(MILD DISCLAIMER: Says, Hebden - "I can’t really say this is my all-time top 10 because I had to leave stuff out as I don’t want to get anyone in trouble by revealing uncleared samples. Ten of my all time favourites, though, in no particular order.")
HIT UP THE THUMBNAILS ABOVE TO CHECK OUT FOUR TET'S FAVORITE SAMPLE FLIPS
1. Terry Riley – "You’re Nogood" (Cortical Foundation, 2000; recorded 1968)
PRODUCER: Terry Riley
SAMPLE SOURCE: Harvey Averne – "You’re No Good" (Atlantic, 1968)
Four Tet: I’m starting with this one because it was just way ahead of the game… 1968 and minimalist composer Terry Riley takes a soul record and makes a tape loop of a short piece from the middle and then loops it until everyone loses their minds. I love the way he plays most of the original track and then lets the sample lock in, just the same way Kanye did on "Otis" only a few months ago, and has been done on countless other hip-hop beats. Pete Rock also used this record for his House of Pain "Jump Around" remix.
2. Souls Of Mischief – "'93 'Til Infinity" (Jive, 1993)
PRODUCER: A Plus
SAMPLE SOURCE: Billy Cobham – "Heather" (Atlantic, 1974)
Four Tet: One of my favourite records of all time, and the way they used the Billy Cobham sample is a big reason. They found such a beautiful piece right there in the middle and then sped it up (I like to think the idea came from playing the record on 45) so it bumps along a bit faster. And then the way they used the filter and the echoed horns… it’s all just perfect and seems to touch me on another level whenever I hear it. I tried to make a cover of this beat on a 4-track tape machine using a little Casio when I was about 15… it was one of my first releases .
3. Freeway – "What We Do" (Roc-A-Fella, 2002)
PRODUCER: Just Blaze
SAMPLE SOURCE: Creative Source – "I Just Can’t See Myself Without You" (Sussex, 1974)
Four Tet: The way Just Blaze flips samples is on another level… he blows my mind again and again. When he put that beat made from Superfreak up on his myspace a few years back I pretty much shit my pants. This Freeway one was a big deal for me and my friends when it came out. All the sped up vocals and stuttering samples just sounded so heavy and fresh.
4. Ricardo Villalobos – "Enfants (Chants)" (Sei Es Drum, 2008)
PRODUCER: Ricardo Villalobos
SAMPLE SOURCE: Christian Vander – "Baba Yaga La Sorciere" (AKT, 1995)
Four Tet: I think Villalobos is one of the really creative samplers in dance music. He uses loops from records that no one else has ever touched and makes really unique sounding tracks. This one uses a French kids record made by a prog rock musician and turns it into the most blissed out hypnotic club track. I’ve seen people go nuts to this in a club and considering the sample source that’s pretty weird. There are Christian Vander records of mad drum breaks too but it’s cool that the most famously used loop is from the kids record.
5. Radiohead – "Idioteque" (Capitol, 2000)
PRODUCERS: Radiohead and Nigel Godrich
SAMPLE SOURCE: Paul Lansky – "Mild Und Leise" (Columbia, 1976)
Four Tet: I collect a lot of early electronic music so I love it when I hear someone use one of those records for a loop. The Paul Lansky track goes all over the place but Radiohead found this one lovely melodic bit buried in there and got such a beautiful loop from it. Radiohead hardly ever use samples so I like that when they did they really made it count with some super obscure shit that no one had touched before.
6. Clams Casino – "I’m God" (self-released, 2011)
PRODUCER: Clams Casino
SAMPLE SOURCE: Imogen Heap – "Just For Now" (RCA, 2005)
Four Tet: This is a recent sample use that really stood out to me. It freaked me out when I heard the original… I mean the thought of Clams Casino hearing this track and deciding to make a beat out of it… doesn’t exactly seem obvious to me. And the way he put together all the samples is really brilliant. It’s not just a loop, he made a whole collage of bits from the track.
7. Diddy – "Get Off" (Bad Boy, 2006)
PRODUCER: Sean C
SAMPLE SOURCE: Miles Davis – "Spanish Key" (Columbia, 1970)
Four Tet: I love it when the crazier jazz records are used to make a beat because I’m a big fan of the more cosmic and free areas of jazz. Showbiz using the mad bits from that Jack Bruce record or ATCQ sampling Michael Urbaniak… some of the greatest moments in sampling. But I’ve picked out this Diddy track because it was just so crazy to see a really commercial act like that come out with a track that used Bitches Brew in such a heavy way. Diddy also put a video on youtube when this track came out showing him in the studio dancing and losing his mind to the beat that is pretty incredible
8. Nas – "Represent" (Columbia, 1994)
PRODUCER: DJ Premier
SSAMPLE SOURCE: Lee Erwin – "Thief of Bagdad" (Angel, 1974)
Four Tet: I love that no one had found this sample that Premier used for years and years… one of the most studied hip hop albums of all time and he managed to use a sample so unlikely and weird that it took close to 20 years for anyone to work it out. Premier is obviously one of the all time great beat makers and the stuff he uses is truly inspiring. People like him digging that deep really set the bar nice and high for sampling I think.
9. Moodymann – "Black Mahogany" (KDJ, 1998)
SAMPLE SOURCE: Walter Murphy – "Afternoon of a Faun" (New York International, 1979)
Four Tet: Moodymann cut this one up in such a nice flowing way… you don’t notice the loops or the joins or anything and I when I listen to it it feels more like the sound of a band locked into this heavy groove rather than the sound of a sampler. I like that he took a pretty mellow record and made something that sounds so heavy in a club with it.
10. Burial – "Archangel" (Hyperdub, 2007)
SAMPLE SOURCE: Ray J – "One Wish" (Sanctuary, 2005)
Four Tet: I’ve been lucky enough to work with Burial quite a bit and watching him work on a sample is some next level shit. He is able to notice and extract the craziest and most beautiful sounds from really unlikely sources and make magic happen. He is obviously pretty famous for the way he cuts up vocal samples, and the way he used this Ray J vocal is incredible and seems to be a moment in music that is influencing a whole new generation of producers.