Small Hours

As satisfying as it is to discover a particularly evasive sample source after months of searching, I find stumbling upon them can be just as rewarding. As part of my recent foray into the work of the great John Martyn, I was listening to One World (1977) late last night, and the track Small Hours sounded hauntingly familiar.

When working on One World, Martyn employed a number of then experimental recording and production techniques, working with one of the fathers of Dub, Lee Scratch Perry. Small Hours was recorded outside, in the courtyard of a house situated in the middle of a lake in Teale, Berkshire. As well playing through an echoplex to achieve the delay on the main guitar part, Martyn set up recording equipment on the opposing banks of the lake. As a result, there is a thick layer of ambient noise containing the sounds of the lake during the early hours of the morning – water lapping at the shore and even the plaintive hooting of geese can be heard at around 2.30. The overall effect is astoundingly beautiful, I recommend a decent pair of headphones for maximum enjoyment. So that’s the samplee, but what of the sampler?

The first few bars of Small Hours are sampled by Lukid for The Now, a track off his 2007 album, Onandon. Lukid deftly chops and loops the first tentative stabs of Martyn’s guitar, adding further ambient washes that are heavily compressed by the kick drum. It is a shuffling, atmospheric beat, a fitting homage to John Martyn and his enthusiasm for new forms of electronic music and production.

For more information on John Martyn and his fascinating musical career, check out johnmartyn.com. Lukid has a Myspace page and he regularly broadcasts live via Ustream.

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