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Sampling Masters 4 - Never Float :: Review by Chris

Sampling Masters 4 - Never Float Album Title: Sampling Masters 4 - Never Float
Record Label: Sweep Records
Catalog No.: SRIN-1001
Release Date: August 9, 2001
Purchase: Buy at VGM World


Sampling Masters original duo, Shinji Hosoe (aka SamplingMasters MEGA) and Ayako Saso (aka SamplingMasters AYA), returned to craft another original album in 2001, Never Float. With four years having passed since Sampling Masters 3, the pair were able to integrate improved technology and new musical ideas into this album. That said, they limited themselves to eight tracks, making the album the shortest of the Sampling Masters series. Never Float was incidentally the first album published by Sweep Records, the highly successful record label of Shinji Hosoe's company SuperSweep.


Shinji Hosoe opens the album in style with "Rubber Blood". This item features a few of the trademarks of the Sampling Masters series, such as hard-edged electronic beats, commanding male vocal samples, and plenty of timbral diversity. However, Hosoe also throws a few ideas to the mix, most significantly the use of operatic soprano voices every so often to give an extra sense of radiance and importance to the theme. "Sludge Water" is a vibrant mix of electronic and industrial elements. Though the rhythms are very stimulating here, the minimal vocal samples add a tacky gloss. Fortunately, "Mercury Injection" is an all-round good egg. The initial section features enjoyable funk rhythms and wah-wah guitars, but the track becomes multidimensional during its development with sections dedicated to ambient soundscaping and oppressive beats.

Ayako Saso instantly makes a mark on the second section of the album with "Thumb Syndrome". The bubbly electronic beats and contrasting sections guarantee to take listeners on quite a journey here. However, perhaps the most unusual feature are the vocal samples; I'm not sure why Saso chose to open this track with 'dirty bastards' but it doesn't exactly make the track endearing in public places. Still, a great track overall. "Parasite Life (Why Don't You Do It?)" maintains the high-octane nature of the album with layers upon layers of beats. Saso keeps it from sounding repetitive, both within itself and within the whole album, and somehow makes it relatively accessible too. Concluding the original section, "Overflow Orange" concludes the album on a charming note with liberating Caribbean rhythms and sensual female vocals. It's the more contrasting addition to the album, but fits where it is placed.

The album closes with remixes of the leading tracks by each artist. "Rubber Mix -Ever Mix-" usually stays quite close to the original, but features a denser texture overall and slightly distorted samples. There are also some sections with a greater focus on the underlying beats. Saso's "Thumb Syndrome Remix" is quite a bit different. Though the underlying beats and insults still remain, vocals take a much large role this time. The diversity of the vocal samples used adds a very vibrant feel to the theme although there are some sections that are little too instrumentally focused nonetheless.


Sampling Masters 4 - Never Float isn't exactly a return to form for the series. For one, the quantity isn't there with six original themes, two remixes, and 34 minutes of music overall; while the pricetag isn't bad, it's probably a little too much for what is offered. All the compositions are good and accessible, though the lack of a clear theme or really radical experimentation like earlier Sampling Masters albums means that only a few particularly stand out. In the end, it feels a little bit like Hosoe dubbed Never Float as a Sampling Masters album as an afterthought, when in reality it is more of a stand-alone electronic mini-album. Although this album is worthwhile and easily available for hardcore SuperSweep fans, it might be worthwhile purchasing earlier Sampling Masters or later NanoSweep albums instead.

Overall Score: 6/10