Under Review

Pete Samples



Review By Douglas Mackenzie

Named after the outdoor miniature village in Beaconsfield, UK, Bekonscot is the last of four Pete Samples albums by Montreal/Winnipeg multi-instrumentalist Brent Freedman. “The narrative just seemed right to retire this Pete Samples guy,” Freedman said on his website. The album was self-released, and comes either as a free download from his website, or in a handmade limited edition package containing the CD, with a booklet of photographs of miniature models made by Samples.

Listening to the album, it seems that Samples approaches music-making as he does his miniature art—with patience, meticulousness and an eye for detail. He wrote all the songs and played all the instruments, and as such, without a label to answer to, he has complete control over his art. You can hear this in the music—it is lush and layered, with dulcimer, xylophones, accordion and keys complimenting the guitars, bass and drums. Samples’ vocals are worth mentioning too—breathy and hushed, but multi-tracked for a stereophonic chorale effect. The songs have varied structure, with extended buildups, breakdowns and long instrumental interludes. What they have in common is a tendency towards simple, positive pop chord progressions and driving, four-on-the-floor kick drum rhythms. It’s quite cool when Samples takes a simple, repetitive melodic motif and gradually builds a song up around it to a climactic intensity. What this means is that the music will appeal to those who appreciate Samples’ tightly controlled, composed style of songwriting, but people who like more of a loose, live feel may be left wanting by the lack of group dynamics and improvisation.

Bekonscot is Freedman’s farewell to his eight years of working under the Pete Samples moniker, and according to him, it is the first of his albums “that feels complete.” At times melancholy but always sounding hopeful, it seems as though Samples has taken a project to a conclusion that is satisfying to him.