Remix albums are ubiquitous, and sampling has become one of the fundamental techniques of electronic music. But how much do raw materials impact the end result? And given that a sample might simply be a prompt or starting point, why not take on someone else’s samples instead of your own?

Film aficionados routinely trade film – sometimes even double-exposing someone else’s roll, for unexpected results. Here, a group of musicians take on another artist’s samples, starting with 40 minutes of material by Forrest Reiff (Off Balance Atlas), shared on SoundCloud. The results are eclectic, sometimes exotic, sometimes chaotic, but well worth a sampling yourself. And if you decide to give them money, you can get a handmade cassette copy in the deal.

Forrest explains the project:

This album was initiated from an idea in my head to have other people hear the sounds that I sample and create their own interpretation of the source material. It’s not really a remix album because there is no linear path that any of the sounds were presented is more a reanimation of raw crystal sound waves into a new gem fortress. The artists were not asked to use the material exclusively, but merely to implement it into the creative process. Thank you to all the producers who participated out of their sheer creative drive in the first round. May the future bring bright things for us all.
The album is being offered free of charge but if you donate $8-$10 you will be guaranteed a physical copy of the release in cassette format. Feel free to donate less if you just wish to support the idea and enjoy the digital album. I will be hand making the tapes initially but if the interest becomes great and I receive enough donations a full on pressing will commence and you will receive a “professionally” dubbed and printed tape…which will mark the first official skylight gymnasium records release. We live in an extraordinary world filled with vast stimuli and beauty…I humbly thank you for your interest in this project and possible endeavors of the infinite beyond.
-Forrest Reiff (Off Balance Atlas)

One of the participating artists, Judson / Sumsun, sent us a heads-up on the project and shares his impressions:

I really enjoy listening to all the artists interpretations of the material, you can hear a little bit of Off Balance Atlas or hear a bit that I almost sampled, but then the songs really sound like the artists using the sample.

He fills us in on some of the process and background, too:

It’s a lot of Roland SP sampling ([BOSS] SP-505 and [Roland] SP-404), cassette and mini cassette field recordings, random vinyl rips, hydrophones, analog and digital synths, you know, meat and potatoes type stuff. Then he sent the soundcloud page out to a bunch of friends and they sent it to their friends and it grew and grew. He started this months ago but just put the finished product up online. The label my project is on, Leaving Records, debuted it in a simple blog post:

Leaving is a small LA label owned by sonic wizard Matthewdavid and is a subsidiary of Alpha Pup Records (Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label is also a subsidiary of Alpha Pup).

The images here come from Forrest’s sampling setup, and I’m sure aren’t dissimilar from many readers’ noise-making closets.

SoundCloud was the means of sharing the files, for samples like this one:

Samplebasedlife (1) (DL able now) by samplebasedlife

SoundCloud and services like it, in turn, will be the subject of a lot of the hacking happening this weekend at the first-ever New York installment of Music Hack Day. I’ll be interested to see if that helps spawn more ideas like this.

On the other hand, you don’t need fancy technology; you could even mail a cassette tape.

Tried something like this? Got a way of organizing samples, even for yourself? Let us know.