Gesellschaft zur Emanzipation des Samples




The Society for the Emancipation of Sampling is an audio collage project of Berlin-based Electronic musician Jan Jelinek that contains two inherent features of a remarkable kind. First of all, Jan Jelinek is keen of Exotica music and samples quite a lot of tunes by this genre, which is the primary reason I put his creative release in the Exotica section (as it also deserves to be put into the Ambient corner) – believe me, these audio collages sound like anything in your Exotica collection, even though the collages are based on various Exotica loops, which the full-hearted collector does know, of course. Secondly, and most importantly from an artistic aspect, Jan Jelinek's fictional Society tries to uncover frailties in international copyright laws by circumventing these laws as follows: He samples various snippets of Pop, Jazz and Exotica records while they are being played in public – a fairground, an art exhibition, etc. – or out in the field, in nature!


Instead of sampling pristine parts directly from CD or LP, the respective audio equipment that plays the music is taken to places beyond the borders of the studio setup or, alternatively, melodies are recorded live by chance in public places overloaded with music, traffic noise and casual conversations. Doing this, the copyright law in terms of sampling would be discarded – or wouldn't it? In the liner notes of Circulations, Jelinek adjures "the utopia of a space unfettered by copyright. A potential solution to the criminalisation of sampling: take your sources and sample them in public space." Which is exactly what he did in 20 small audio collages that are reduced to 9 tracks in the iTunes version I'm reviewing; however, nothing is left out, as the formerly 20 small collages are just glued together in order to form 9 slightly longer collages.


The order is still the same as on CD. Naturally, an ambitious project like this can go awfully wrong. Sampling hundreds of music snippets and field recording bits plus making a creative and interesting record out of it is no easy task. Luckily, Jelinek succeeds easily, creating one of the most interesting Exotica records or field recordings you can find. This is no DJ mix and no piped music, heck, this isn't even music in the proper sense, but a deliciously silky record with an accomplished exotic feeling that rewards Exotica fans with a shedload of "aha" moments.


Describing every detail and song snippet of the album's starting point, Laokoon, Orinoco, Oberhausen, would be too time consuming at all events. However, there's another, more embarrassing reason: every audio collage is loaded with so many snippets that I cannot recognize them all, no matter how hard I try. Listeners who have decades of experience, though, will be rewarded and might spot a few songs in every collage. Anyway, the first collage starts with a flock of birds chirping in a rain forest before bursting strings lead to a quiet violin and harp loop that is accompanied by loudly cawing birds. After two and a half minutes, a looped sample of Les Baxter's Jungle River Boat is mangled by being played forwards and backwards; the sample leads to a beautiful Asian melody played on a string instrument, maybe a Koto.


Samplecredits (Manipulated) contains the synthetic voice of Alex, as featured on Apple's Mac OS X. He reads several sample credits like Kenny Loggins, The Beach Boys, Brian Eno, Yellow Magic Orchestra etc. – I do have to wonder whether they are all used in Circulations or whether Jelinek deliberately tries to set the listener on the wrong track. Gesänge der Kommentaristen (translating roughly as Chants of the Commenters) focuses on German conversations about trifles, maybe recorded in a shop. Well, the most interesting part takes place in the background where a dreamful harp is played. Crackles and looped marimbas mark the transition to a new part of the collage, namely an 8-bit orchestra mixed with real pizzicato strings.


Mount Zermatt (In Dub) starts in the bustling kitchen of a restaurant where plates are being put in the dishwasher and cutlery is being sorted, all the while strings are played and morphed into electronic pulses. The next section of this collage consists of vinyl pops and Exotic claves, a short intersection by a choir that leads to a distinctly warped and repeated string section. It is very remarkable but I cannot find out the original source. Incidental Music From Asia And Africa features dropping billard balls, bird noises from the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop, sprinklers, and a soothingly pitched down choir, probably from another Les Baxter song, maybe Oasis Of Dakhla. After a rather unbefitting and long loop of electronic pulses, ecstatic strings and soothing vibraphones conclude this collage.


Taxi Trailer starts with several radio frequencies and programs, followed by a monolog of a taxi driver whose ramblings I cannot correctly correlate to a particular language. Flötentöne auf Waipio (Flute Tones on Waipio) presents delicately looped vibraphone and string sections and a small bit of China Fan, but I could also be wrong. Wind chimes and an up- and downswinging flute (?) mark the end of the track. On the last track, Linernotes, synthetic voice Alex, later accompanied by an equally synthetic female voice, reads the liner notes of Circulations, while bird, jungle and fairground noises can be heard in the background, next to clangorous pop songs. 


If there is anything wrong with Circulations, it is the fast movement of the audio vignettes – I would embrace longer renditions of its cozy harp loops filled with bird cries, which move to another collage all of a sudden and oftentimes way too soon. Once you're in the mood, you're already being torn out of it. But this is just a minor flaw for me. Jelinek's experiment does work out, and his mission of creating interesting sample-laden collages rather than songs (which he does release anyway under his own name and his Farben stage name) is more than accomplished. Due to his broad use of Exotica songs and exotic bird samples and interesting field recordings, the subsidiary undertone of the album may be Ambient, but the overarching approach is based on Exotica songs and moods. To reword this conjecture: Circulations is an album that supersedes the genre splitting on this website – it enforces equal emphasis on both genres.


If you are open-minded for a different take on Exotica music, at least preview this album on Amazon, iTunes or Jan Jelinek's Faitiche website, the name of his label. I'm sure you will find the result most exceptional, even more so when you are fond of ubiquitous bird noises and field recordings. A new 7-inch EP entitled More Circulations will be released in January 2012, hopefully focusing on similar sounds and music snippets.


Further reading:

Jan Jelinek's Faitiche Label Website explains the concept of his fictional society in great detail and presents various of his collages for your free listening pleasure. 


Exotica Review 013: Gesellschaft Zur Emanzipation Des Samples – Circulations (2009). Originally published on Dec. 18, 2011 at