Clams Casino

(Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Instrumentals (2011), 7/10
32 Levels (2016), 4/10

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

New Jersey's white hip-hop producer Mike Volpe, aka Clams Casino, debuted with the instrumental pieces of the EP Rainforest (2011), notably Gorilla, in an ethereal chillwave style a` la How To Dress Well that was replicated in the wordless trip-hop ballads of the mixtape Instrumentals (Type, 2011) that reappropriated music composed by him for rappers and sounded like a cousin of the chillwave movement when it focused on soothing melodies and surreal arrangements: the oneiric, martial, heavily-reverbed Realist Alive, whose invocations recall Enya & Enigma's Return to Innocence; the tidal waves of electronic distortion and mashed vocals of All I Need, lulled in an Enya-esque ecstasy; the metamorphoses of Motivation, from the opening of mournful humming amid electronic drones to the thundering drums and the jungle sounds; the melodramatic gravity of Real Shit From A Real Nigga; and the music-box lullaby of The World Needs Change, obtained by slowing down the singing. Volpe's production skills in the industrial nightmare of Brainwash By London and in the Bjork-ian polyrhythmic scream-fest Illest Alive almost go unnoticed in the middle of so many melodic gems.

It was followed by three more volumes: Instrumentals 2 (2012), Instrumentals 3 (2013) and Instrumentals 4 (2017).

Meanwhile, Clams Casino had become a high-profile producer after crafting the murky, claustrophobic beats of Lil B's I'm God (2009) and A$AP Rocky's debut mixtape Live Love Asap (2011), notably the beats for Palace and Bass. In particular, Volpe produced Vince Staples' debut double album Summertime '06 (2015), a much more interesting work.

32 Levels (Columbia, 2016) was Clams Casino's short full-length debut, a collaboration with guest rappers and singers. It was really two albums in one. The first six songs were delivered by Lil B (notably Witness) and other rappers (notably Vince Staples in All Nite). This side offered a more polished version of his trademark production tricks. The other side offered radio-friendly pop and R&B ballads performed by a cast of guest singers (Sam Dew, Mikky Ekko, Future Islands' Samuel Herring, Kelela, Joe Newman, Kelly Zutrau). The album contains only two brief instrumentals (notably Blast).

(Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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