Fennesz – Szampler (The Tape Worm) Cassette
A scrappy cassette release is not the sort of thing you’d normally expect from Fennesz – a man who, by habit, likes to digitally craft his solo albums over a period of several years. Clearly then, this extremely limited-edition cassette, from Touch-affiliated label The Tape Worm, is something of an anomaly in Fennesz’s discography. As such, it casts light on a few of the lesser-known artefacts lurking in the dark corners his sound-world.
The concept seems to be that Fennesz has dumped all of the sounds that were sitting on his old Ensoniq hardware samplers onto a cassette tape and made the results available to the world. Said results work surprisingly well, on a musical level, though – Szampler comprises a series of murkily intimate sonic vignettes that have that distinct “reading under the covers” aura about them.
The real surprise, though, is how many recognizable snippets of Fennesz’s classic albums crop up here. One would have been forgiven for thinking that, following his debut EP Instrument, Fennesz abandoned hardware samplers completely, in favour of Mac laptops and Max/MSP. However, this release makes it clear that he has continued to run sounds through his samplers, presumably to utilize the signature low-resolution Ensoniq sound (which is perfect for his aesthetic). So, for example, the riff from Endless Summer‘s “A Year in a Minute” is clearly audible in this extract from near the beginning of side one (and it reappears, in a much less processed form, around the middle of side two).
This review should have come a lot earlier. Szampler arrived at Bubblegum Cage III’s palatial offices some weeks ago but busyness prevented this post from showing up until now. In the interim, Szampler seems to have gone waaay out of print. Sorry about that.