Sam Price is a Melbourne based percussionist and composer. You may know him via his eclectic two drummer duo with Ronny Ferella, Peon. You can read our review of their third album Inter Alia here. Over the years he’s also quietly been releasing a series of quality solo albums that merge synthesis, electronics and percussion in a truly performative way. We reviewed Sam’s previous album Jindabyne, which you can read here. Sam also periodically writes for us too, and you can see his writing here. His new album is called Rubicon, in which he plays drums and electronics concurrently as a single instrument, to augment the possibilities of both these worlds.
Entirely improvised, and mixed and recorded as a single stereo track, it’s an eclectic and fascinating listen with deep warm textures and an evocative sense of space, where minimal hypnotic pulse exist alongside angular percussion and hints of all manner of genres. With such fascinating and disparate moments we thought it was about time we asked Sam about some of his favourite and formative music.
Jazzy Jay – (This) Def Jam (Def Jam Recordings) 1985
I bought this from Groove Records in Soho when it came out. Pretty much the coolest thing I ever did. It’s all here; vocoder, scratching, DMX syncopation and that sparse, timeless production that remains out of reach.
Autechre – Pen Expers (Warp Records) 2001
This touchstone is when the 90’s actually ended, musically. The Bboy DMX beats repurposed / deconstructed by the recondite duo may not be to everyone’s tastes however, should you not experience something approaching emotion by the 3 minute mark, you may be lacking the requisite implants for bioengineered sentience.
Augustus Pablo – 1-2-3 Version (Rockers International et al) 1976
I’ve come to believe that the narrative of musical progression over time is one of the consolation stories we tell ourselves to allay the reality of our short and brutal lives. I really want to talk to Carlton Barrett about his drum playing but he’s no longer around. Neither is King Tubby who produced this album. Can Mr Musk hurry up with time machine delivery already?
R.L. Burnside – See My Jumper Hanging On the Line (Alan Lomax Archive) 1978
I’ve spent hours rooting around the Lomax archive, this is a gem. That groove is so physically engaging and undeniable. Is the smile just for the camera? Sure is infectious either way.
Michael Brecker – Nothing Personal (Wiesen Jazz Festival) 1989
Unbridled self-belief, muscular Geek-chismo in full effect and PEDs flowing freely. New is old. They had the excuse of surfing the last wave of the zeitgeist we seem destined to relive but still, this big-stage performance really burns.
Wagner – Prelude to Tristan and Isolde (London Philharmonic Orchestra) 2013
The use of Wagner’s music drama in Lars Von Trier’s ‘Melancholia’ floored me. In isolation, its languorous ambiguity make for an uncomfortable yet exhilarating ride. It seems to foretell of the end of modernity, like a response to Shelley’s Ozymandias.
Nancy Wilson & Cannonball Adderley – Old Country (Capitol Records) 1961
Wilson just slays this vocal; her wonderful phrase displacement, control and tone really bringing home the cutting lyrics. Would anyone ‘turn’ for her in The Voice though?
This Heat – Horizontal Hold (Made Available: The John Peel Sessions) 1977
Early in the new millenia, I went back to the UK for a bit and an intense bloke at the temp job I was doing forced me to listen to this. Thankfully I didn’t have to fake my reaction. Funny how the good stuff all has the quality of sounding like it has to exist.
Mick Meagher & Jenny Barnes – Blurring (self released) 2016
A wonderful subversion of expectation by Barnes and Meagher on this album; Barnes employing all the devices of speech but excluding language to a directly musical interaction with Meagher on bass. I haven’t heard anything like it before. Utterly approachable and absorbing improvisation.
Chopin – Mazurka No 27 in E minor, Op 41 No 2 (Martha Argerich) 1966
Strange visual of Argerich playing this short piece beautifully with no view of her hands adds to the drama. It’s folkloric and Romantic but cuts right through the universe to a longing I don’t understand but feel keenly.