This morning, it’s a joy to welcome The Bins to MailTape for a creative playlist of enchanting tracks. Born from a love of collecting, the group is lovingly named after the $1 discount record bin, where leader Clark Barclay discovers most of the samples woven together for the group’s releases.
Part of the sampledelia movement, this process pieces together vinyls of all different genres, time periods, and forms. The result is a collaborative product – songs that speak in conversational harmony across traditions.
The Bins selection
Inti-Illimani - Alturas
The Bins: “Whether it’s listening to a record or watching a movie, for me, the best way to go about it is by having absolutely no prior knowledge of what I’m about to experience. Even the slightest amount of information could generate some expectations or bias. This scenario is best when it happens unintentionally.
This is what I love so much about crate digging; nothing’s more exciting than taking a gamble on a random record, coming home to drop it on the platter, and getting blown away by a new discovery. Nearly all of my favorite records have been discovered this way. A moment like that is magical, unforgettable. I can remember exactly where I was and how I felt when I first pulled these records from the bins and gave them a spin.
Growing up, I used to dig a lot at Rasputin Records in Campbell, California. I frequented the international bins, and this one I plucked from the Latin America section. The record is called Viva Chile! By Inti-Illimani. At the time, I had never heard music from Chile, so I was curious to hear what Chilean music sounded like. I was awestruck by what I heard— the prideful vocals sung in chorus, the unique high register plucks of the charango, and of course, the iconic zampoña— the ethereal pan flute that mimics the winds of the Andes. After learning more about the band, I found out that they are very popular in Chile— which is often the case when I discover a great band from another country. After reading about Inti-Ilimani and listening to more of their records, I learned about la nueva canción: a social movement and musical genre characterized by message of socio-political upheaval and protest of the many dictatorships throughout Latin America in the 60s and 70s. Via Inti-Illimani I discovered other great nueva canción artists like Victor Jara, Quilapayún, Pablo Milanés, Silvio Rodríguez, Atahualpa Yupanqui, Mercedes Sosa, and Violetta Parra— all of whom are amongst my favorite artists.
Inti-Illimani lead me down a rabbit hole to learn more about Latin American history, culture, and politics. In fact, the music inspired me to study abroad in Santiago, Chile, and eventually, obtain a bachelor’s degree in Spanish. I sampled numerous nueva canión songs in the remix that I made for The Flying Skulls’ track “Luz Juice.” I selected the instrumental song “Alturas” because this was the song, specifically, that hooked me.“
Milton Nascimento & Lô Borges - Um girassol da cor do seu cabelo
The Bins: “Many years ago, I was digging at a record store in Madrid and I spotted an intriguing album cover in a cardboard CD clearance bin on the ground. The cover is a photograph of two boys, one black, one light-skinned, they’re crouched on a dirt slope in ragged clothes with barbed wire running across the top of the photograph. The light-skinned boy, is barefoot, eating bread, and smiling— seemingly goofily at the camera. The black boy has his chin turned down and his eyes fixed on the photographer— his countenance is aggressive in that adolescent don’t-mess-with-me-kind-of-way, but if you look closer, there appears to be sadness or maybe even fear in his eyes. The photograph is captivating— something you’d see in National Geographic. This was one of those moments when the album art choses you. I took it home for 1€. The fact that the album cover has no text whatsoever so it’s very difficult to narrow down what kind of music it may be. I had no idea what to expect. Perfect.
What happened next was pure bliss. I was drawn in immediately, but track 8, “Um girassol da cor do seu cabelo”, was the one that made me a fan for life. About halfway through the song, there’s a very weird movement that the song falls into, it’s jarring, dark and dissonant, but just before it loses you, it transforms into a big, relieving major chord, then, a fiery piano arpeggio enters and rockets you off to a prog rock-like headbanger for the final sprint. Every song on Clube da esquina is incredible, and it’s an iconic Brazilian album.“
Gábor Szabó - Galatea’s Guitar
The Bins: “When it comes to digging, my favorite era is late 60s/early 70s. Lots of change and adversity was happening all around the world at that time— which makes for great music. Major evolvements in globalization was also occurring, e.g., the ubiquitous LP, increased accessibility of air travel, satellite broadcasting (of the Beatles in 1967, for instance), etc.; this helped many American and British bands like The Beatles, The Doors, and Led Zeppelin achieve international fame. Consequently, artists all over the world adopted jazz, blues, rock, and soul sounds/instruments, and fused them with their homegrown music. There are countless recordings that exemplify this unique melding of musical styles. Milton Nascimento and Lô Borges, for example, have openly expressed The Beatles’ profound influence on Clube da esquina. Other personal favorites of this fusion-era are the Tapatio rock bands 39.4, The Spiders, and Toncho Pilates, all of which performed at the famous Festival Rock y Ruedas de Avándaro in 1971— it’s been called the Mexican Woodstock.
My favorite guitarist of this era is Gábor Szabó. Gábor was born in 1936 in Budapest, Hungary. He picked up the guitar at fourteen and fled his country on the eve of the anti-Communist uprising in 1956. In 1961 he attended Berklee College in Boston, Massachusetts and in 1961 joined Chico Hamilton’s quintet. He went on to play with many other jazz greats like Gary McFarland, Tony Williams, and Ron Carter. Gábor released many pop covers (lots of Beatles) and outstanding originals too.
What intrigues me most about his music, and what’s most distinguishable about it, is the obvious incorporation of melodies from his home country played in a western setting of pop/rock instrumentation and tuning. The other detail that makes up his signature sound is that he plays an amplified acoustic guitar with nylon strings. This setup allows him to play detailed, gypsy-jazz melodies with a timbre reminiscent of a Hungarian zither.
The song ”Galatea’s Guitar” off Dreams from 1968 (my favorite album of his) is a prime example of east meets west. The song was released in 1972 but with those knocking drums, brooding strings, and hypnotic guitar melodies make it sounds like it could have come out during peak trip hop era in the 90s.
I have sampled Gábor Szabó for numerous songs including “Don’t Go!”, “Hold On”, “Laundry Day”, and “Every Second of the Night.”“
The Bins - Beijos
Sarah: “This new album, Happiness Complete, is such a delight– and the first album release in 8 years! Each track off the ablum is vibrant and yet so smooth, definitely worth the wait. West Coast surfer influences drift into jazz brass sections, treading alongside the well known embrace of soul music :) A new world is created in this special vacuum of parsed samples, one where these traditions can all exist at once. Perception warping in the best possible way, this might be the perfect song to start a Sunday with.“
L’Rain - Find It
Sarah: “The overlapping vocals and synths weave such a silky web of sound, winding its way all around us. Delightfully expansive brass movements, complimenting the subtle roughness of the intermediate sections; so much richness in this mix to appreciate! Listen as the song takes on a new life halfway through, an echo returned phantom, gaining more life with each measure. When the organ surfaces, elevated on choir supports, we realize the journey the track has taken us for – with percussives at the pinnacle.“
Ben Lamar Gay - Sometimes I Forget How Summer Looks On You (feat Ohmme)
Sarah: “I’ve been listening to this album incessantly for the past few weeks – with each review, there’s a new treasure to find. This track plays with a certain contagious momentum, bouncing in between acoustic and electric compositions. The surprises are shocking and yet so natural, a hypnotizing mix :)“
Vilde - Hope You Forgive Everything You Can’t
Sarah: “A smooth moving track to finish off our playlist! Love the nouvelle vague influences, the track’s breakdown into fragments of synth riffs adds such a refreshing interval to the song’s momentum :)“
That’s all for this morning! Thank you very much for listening along with us. So much love to The Bins for his electric eclectic Sunday selections and to Noémie Dijon for her fantastic illustration.