The sample-happy DJ label Illegal Art is no stranger to funny business. The label launched in 1998 with Deconstructing Beck, produced using low-fi, unapproved Beck samples. Today, Girl Talk — the Pittsburgh-based mash-up king who probably holds the record for using the most illegal samples — is the label’s breadwinner. The label’s newest wisecracker is Økapi — Italian turntablist and sample artist Filippo Paolini — who has dubbed himself the daft giraffe of the forest (an okapi is a zebra-striped giraffe-like animal from the Congo).
On his first record, Love Him, Økapi exclusively uses samples from Aldo Kapi, a fictitious experimental composer said to have lived in Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia from 1896-1952. Pillaging from fake symphonies and made-up masterpieces (or, more realistically, illegally sampling real ones ), Økapi delivers 16 songs of glitchy, deranged turntablism. The album runs the gamut of electro styles: “Love-him” is a symphonic drum-and-bass homage to Brazilian DJ Amon Tobin; “Ti Chiamerò 10” is Asian ambient techno that would fit nicely on a Warp Records compilation; “My Old Tune” is dime-store downtempo. But, like a lot of turntablism, it’s chaotic and characterless, which is why the fake backstory helps. Love Him is a fun experiment, but the entertainment value diminishes with multiple listens. Next time, we’d like Økapi to plunder a real experimental composer’s library. The results might fare better. — Keith Gribbins