There are several artists I greatly admire in their ability to effectively use sampling in their music-making. Two of these people are Moby - a.k.a Richard Hall - and Fatboy Slim - a.k.a Quentin Cook.
When I think 'Moby', my mind conjures clean-cut, masterly simple mixes with sombre tones.
He generally uses sampling as a means to heighten the expression he aims for in a song - it's about kindling people's emotions through music for him I think.
And I'd say he is successful in that aspect because there is great unity between the samples and the music he builds around it - it makes the music pleasant to the spirit.
I specifically really love his work on Play (his fifth album, released in 1999). There are such gems on this record, including Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?, Porcelain and Natural Blues.
The story goes that Moby was introduced, by a friend, to a collection of CDs entitled 'Sounds of the South: A Musical Journey from the Georgia Sea Islands to the Mississippi Delta' (1993) - full of field recordings of folk music (made by Alan Lomax).
Listening to the recordings, it is evident why they were so inspiring and intriguing to Moby as samples.
They contain extremely rich and tonally interesting voices, without other instruments cramping the recordings - they're clean vocal takes; lending them well to remixing (with greater space for creative composition and control).
What I find so admirable in the way Moby sampled these traditional vocal performances is how true he kept the samples to their original tone and timbre.
He did not over-produce them, so they have maintained their unique and soulful quality (this also gives Play its identifiable style and tone... Genius).
I like that the singers' vocal performances are therefore still very recognisable as their own.
He gave them new life, and brought them into a contemporary era of music.
You do not need to scour Play's songs very long or far to hear the recordings' influence - they're the crux of the songs. He made them the feature, and it seems as though they were the stimulus for the rest of the music, which sounds based around the sample.
The way the samples are edited, also, using effects such as Reverb and Delay, blends the vocals with the added features, and makes the song sound entirely devised in the same creative space.
Here is Natural Blues (1999), for which Moby sampled Trouble So Hard by Vera Hall (recorded in 1937!); bringing southern American, Gospel-type soul into Electronic music.
I dig when artists can seamlessly blend genres and styles into an alloy of a song - it's creativity at its finest, and interesting because it gives us something different to experience.
In Natural Blues, soul, electronic, pop, blues and gospel are inventively harmonised.
He couples the original sample with devised synthesis - his composed rhythms and melodies - so wonderfully that it somehow brings out the beauty in the original vocal performance - as if, if those vocals were performed today it would be for/with that music (like, Vera Hall would be proud of it-type-thing).
He brought out the meaning in the lyrics, and the sincerity of the original - which is still the shining grace of the tune - and even did so in the film clip; bringing a new context to the authenticity of the original vocals...
It is a very genuine use of sampling I think.
Here's another cool track from Play, where he took a folk-song from Southern America to build a dramatic-sounding, tough hip-hop-style tune.
I think he did it so well that the vocals don't even sound sampled - it presents as if the singing was performed for this track.
The way the music comes in and out, and intertwines with the vocals, and the layering of the synth parts - it's really quite brilliant in my humble opinion.
Another example from the album that shares very similar sampling methods is a real funky song called Honey...
A fellow sampling master of the 90s-00s is Fatboy Slim. I am also a huge fan of his music and sampling, he has made some very timeless Electronic tunes I think.
There are similarities to Moby in the way Fatboy Slim employs sampling, but he also has his own distinct method and style.
Whilst Moby, in Play specifically, often uses particular samples throughout his song that are the significant element (and adds mostly his own instrumentals and synthesis), Fatboy Slim takes a more composite approach; collecting from various sources and having more than one sample featuring in each song.
Fatboy Slim's songs also seem to have more sections - the track varies throughout. Whereas Moby often loops samples over and over; making more sample-repetitive songs (it's quite cool then really, that he can keep our interest despite constantly repeating 8-bars of vocals, for example).
With Praise You, Fatboy Slim incorporates six seperate samples from various sources into the one song. He uses Camille Yarbrough's voice from Take Yo' Praise for the vocals, which have not been over-produced (only slightly sped up). The original sample is clear and unobstructed - like Moby, Fatboy Slim selected vocals that are not surrounded by music (for cruisy re-use).
As for the rest of the song, the main piano riff came from JBL's Sessions LP (I absolutely love how he sourced this!), the feature at 2:20 seconds was taken from the Fat Albert theme song (slowed down), he sampled keys from Lucky Man (the Steve Miller Band) at 2:12, the drums of the song came from Running Back To Me (by Ruby), and, probably most hilariously, the funky guitar riff (first played at 1:17) is from a Mickey Mouse: Disco track.
These six songs sampled are all from the 60s and 70s - like Moby, Fatboy Slim is also into resurrecting past songs.
It's quite unbelievable actually that he managed to integrate all these random and disjointed sources into one flowing piece of music - it's like a puzzle that he managed to fit together perfectly... I'm kind of in awe. It seems fun actually I'd like to try this.
I would be interested to know how and why he sourced the particular samples! Even the organisation alone is praise-worthy - he must have had a sound sample library that he continuously added to, and drew from as he needed.
Other songs from that same era of his also sample a large number of tunes: Gangster Trippin' (1998) sampled sounds from 10 different songs, Weapon Of Choice (2000) - 8 songs, Rockafeller Skank (1998) - 6 songs.
And for a favourite use of sampling, below is an example of Fatboy Slim taking a vocal snippet from the film Strange Days (1995) and making it the chorus of a song, with the perfect touch of beautiful strings from the 1970 song Ashes, the Rain and I (by James Gang).
I think it's one of the most amazing songs ever made.
All sampling examples sourced from the "Who Sampled: Exploring the DNA of Music", and the brilliant website that it is - www.whosampled.com