Album Review: Clams Casino – 322 min read
Few bring with them a distinguished style or signature sound capable of worldwide resonance than Michael Volpe. Better known to his global followers as Clams Casino, he rises from the darkness in 2016 with his first studio album – 32. Having previously released a sequence of EP’s, Singles, and mix-tapes, his debut record is a convergence of limitless boundaries, orbiting in a cluster of transcendental sonic vibrations.
The New Jersey-based hip-hop producer has made a name for himself surrounding his idiosyncratic style of beat-making – quickly grappling the attention Hip-hop royalty, such as Lil B, A$AP Rocky, Schoolboy Q, Vince Staples, Danny Brown among others. Controlling an ability to cut and chop up vocal samples with a razor sharpness, dusting field recordings and a blend of natural hypnotic time stretching melodies – Clams is like no other. Be Somebody showcases a debut pairing of rappers, A$AP & the based God – Lil B. A sub-bass haven of earthquake proportions grips a raw, demonic sinister ambience – outlining a dark sonic pool with sadistic reflections. Vince Staples enters in All Nite while the musicality fetches a clear ethereal mistiness, lumping the use of ugly screeches as a growling synth rumbles the partitioned sections throughout. “Short fuse, no rules, big gamble”, he raps – soliciting a vicious and daring fear. Thanks To You enlists the daunting vocals of Sam Dew, handling his looming peachiness over a layered echoed synth-focused drum arrangement – whereas Back To You begins with an orientally rooted guitar component as it raises the ghostly and hypnotic harmony provided by Kelly Zutrau. Fast paced breakdowns and drum crescendos feather over blunt piano whispers and chiming space echoes – placing it somewhere between trap, jazz and footwork. The album’s cryptic gemstone, however, is embroidered inside the record’s last track, Blast. Mounting an atmospheric sampled masterpiece with aerial senses, Clams builds a neo-noir momentum as he jumps through drum claps and wordless vocal reverberations. A nightmarish synth lead takes refuge from sampled noises of collapsing skyscrapers, while intricate pitched down sinister chuckles animate a thrilling two and a quarter minutes.
Clams Casino’s 32 is a thorough visit through surreal soundscape environments. Tastefully thinking outside of all boxes, Volpe manoeuvres through themes of death, revenge and twisted feelings – splashing dark and light colours over a modern hip hop canvas. The record’s ambiguous and deep ventures perpetuate a tingling feeling of angst and anticipation, in only the best of ways.