OKAPI - Where's the Beef?
[Inflatabl Labl,

VARIOUS ARTISTS - 45 Seconds of A Simballrec Compilation

I don't know whether I get a kick out of the actual process of artists plundering other people's work or whether I just enjoy listening to the end process.

"Where's the Beef?" is a debut solo release by an Italian turntablist and sample cutup artists Okapi, aka Filippo Paolini. Better known as one half of Metaxu [with Maurizio Martusciello] as well as an important member of Dogon, Filippo turns the spotlight on the art of borrowing or stealing [as some call it]. Stealing [or plunderphonia, as it's come to be known] is a delicate term. I mean, are you really stealing if you're only appropriating tiny, miniscule half a second sections of an original piece to make a larger piece, that in turn becomes your own. You put hundreds of these smaller sections into one great big whole and it sounds like an entirely new creation. Who does Okapi steal from, you ask? Nobody is safe in his world. People such as John Adams, Alva-Noto, Arvo Part, Willem Breuker, John Cage, Gamelan Music of Bali, Kid 606, Barre Phillips, Sun Ra, Vomit Lunch, Zelwer, ZNR and hundreds of others. He does it with such precision and grace that in no sense or form will you be able to recognize the original source recordings. His aim is not to glorify the source record, but to make a new, coherent piece that stands on its own two feet. The end result is not chaotic by any means, but rather maintains an aura of an orchestrated calm [which could easily fall in the realm of orchestral music even] and collective peace. His sampler, turntable, tapes and CDs all come in handy on his journey. [Filippo is so efficient in placing little snippets of other people's work that before Inflatabl Labl would sign him, its' owner, The Rip Off Artist asked him for proof that he wasn't simply lifting entire sections of music from other sources. As proof, Filippo sent screen shots of his computer, where tiny sample fragments where clearly visible as part of a new, connected whole.] The trip is essentially a success as traces of lifted works became the tools in the process to create the new work. If we take the beef to be original source material, then this CD is very appropriately titled - "Where's the Beef?", as the beef is nowhere to be found.

"45 Seconds of" is a different sort of a beast. Yes, it still involves cut-ups, but this time, the cut-ups are amongst various artists that are involved. Each of the 99 artists included on this compilation was given a task to come up with a 45 second track. Then, tracks were assembled in some sort of random order [no pauses between tracks] to arrive with a seamless whole. The sound collage includes contributions from Lali Puna, Lump, Martin Rev, Blevin Blectum, DJ Spooky, The Strangles, Jan Jelinek, Blue Baboon, Silver Apples, Hood, Zoffi and dozens of others. Considering the breadth and variety of talent here, it's surprising just how smoothly the pieces flow into each another. For the most part, this is electronics, mash-up and plunderphonics galore. For any serious fan of challenging music and for anyone just beginning their education into these genres, "45 Seconds of" serves as a sampler and allows a brief glimpse at the talents roaming around today.

Tom Sekowski

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