Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Art Of Sampling Part Three: Simple Imitation

In my previous post about sampling, I talked about blatant sampling - taking a loop from a song and using it as an element in your music. This is very common throughout hip-hop. Other sorts of imitation are just as blatant - covering is frequent throughout popular music.

What is most interesting is something else entirely - when an artist takes elements of songs and duplicates them in almost an identical style but with their own touch. Take this song, "Boadicea," by Enya, from the mid-1980s:

 Believe it or not Enya was original there. All she really does is hum over a synthesizer loop - not really an act of musical genius. However, Enya helped create an entirely new genre of new age with music like that. Loreena McKennit followed, Sarah Brightman, etc. What was really strange is when it popped up in music totally divorced from Enya's own world. Take this song by industrial genius Gary Numan:

It's pretty obvious that a strong Enya influence was powering Gary Numan when he recorded Exile. 

Song titles like "The Angel Wars" were like a dark variation of songs like "Storms in Africa." The churchbell sound in "Angel Wars" sounds like it could have been the work of Enya while the humming sounded as if Enya had gotten a shot of testosterone:


 It's interesting that people who have uploaded Gary Numan and Enya to YouTube have even used similar imagery. Of course, the hard guitars are something Enya would never do but Enya never would have rapped or dropped a drum beat, which The Fugees did when they sampled her for "Ready Or Not."

Gary Numan is still making music and his unique sound is everpresent but the imitation is still there - he sounds quite a bit like Nine Inch Nails these days. I'm not sure what Enya is up to.

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