Old Tech, New Tunes: Sampology On The Making Of 'Regrowth'

3 September 2021 | 12:21 pm | Sam Poggioli

With his new album 'Regrowth' hitting shelves today, Queensland producer Sampology, aka Sam Poggioli, took us behind the scenes to see how it all came together.

The 12 songs on Regrowth contain a universe of layers which give the impression I've sampled my record collection, but there's only one sample from a record. The rest were recorded in my home studio, in or around Brisbane, or on my travels abroad in 2019.

Like the songs, the recording and writing process likewise have many layers and I want to start with my favourite microphone I used for the album. The Coles 4038 is a large, round bulky black ribbon mic designed by the BBC in the 1950s and is still manufactured to the same specs today.

Without going into detail the most important contribution this mic made to the album was the natural, gentle and reduced risk of fatiguing the listener from the recordings it captured.

I used it on the strings, percussion, drums, possibly everything except for vocals on the album.

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For much of the time, I will start with drum and percussion recording, building up grooves I can play keys to. Often I'll take recordings I've made myself - for example, me on vibraphone or harp, like in Memories In Flight. I chop my parts up, re-pitch them and make a new song out of those improvisations. Then I’ll write more on top of that, or open it up to other musicians and chop their parts up. It's a specific process that I undertook for a lot of this album. It requires a lot of patience and curiosity for where songs will take you.

The main keys I used on the album were Rhodes and a grand piano, recorded in my home studio. During lockdown in 2020, I found a beautiful Acetone TOP1 organ on Gumtree and used it on my remix for Tiana Khasi’s Whole Lotta Shine halfway through mixing Regrowth. I was so blown away with its functionality as a rhythm keyboard plus the bottom octave as a bass element that I sprinkled it all over the album. You can hear the grand piano and Acetone on Sand County Almanac.

Speaking of sprinkling the same element over various songs, that's how I approached the strings and choir recordings. For some songs, I had specific string arrangements I wrote and took to Izzy Gerometta to chart out for the players. For other songs, I took samples from the same recording of string sessions I'd done and chopped/re-pitched them to fit into a completely different track.

It gives the album potentially something resonant with The Avalanches or other-worldly sample-based music, but because I'm spreading the same bespoke-but-repurposed elements through the album, it hopefully creates a unique world or environment.

The choir recording came about from a skill swap situation. I volunteered to lug my recording gear into rehearsal sessions for The Australian Voices choir for two nights for their project and on the third night I'd be able to give them some chords and words to sing for my album project.

The sound of 20 highly talented vocalists singing in a room is a completely different feeling compared to one person’s voice multi-tracked 20 times. It feels more lush and thick, and you get more of a sense of space and a moment in time.

I had no idea how I would use these words and chords throughout the album, but I wrote new music on top of them as well as placed and reworked the choral sounds into existing songs. 

I love spring reverb, sometimes where you can hear it high in the mix, but more often lower just massaging the percussion, drums, and a few other choice elements. You can get a spring reverb unit pretty cheap and run any sounds you want in and out of it via a Tank Driver unit.

I could not have completed this album without my friends and family of instrumentalists, Sam Stosuur on bass guitar in particular is on lots of tracks. My dad and auntie play double bass and viola. There's so many recording sessions, contributors and details I hear in the music. If you pick up a copy of the vinyl, definitely have a read of the liner notes for the contributing musicians and hopefully you'll get something new with each listen.


Regrowth is out new. Check it out in full below.