Saturday, 28 May 2011


Two absolute gems from Clams Casino today. Clams casino is a dish originating from Rhode Island, US, consisting of clams served on the halfshell with breadcrumbs and bacon (thanks Wikipedia), an example of which can be seen to the right.

Clams Casino, aka Mike Volpe, is also a producer from the US. Just 23, and still a student, he's been making beats for over a decade - and doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon. He has made beats for Lil B and Soulja Boy, to name a few, but I wouldn't peg him just yet, not until you've listened to couple of the instrumentals he's crafted. And hearing that he makes these unearthly beats from his mother's attic, whilst sending them to artists via MySpace (he said in an interview) based on nothing but who might be interested, well, he sounds a lot more interesting.

An instrumental used as a backing track by Lil B, 'I'm God' works absolutely perfectly on its own. The weird video above (taken from footage of 'Lost in New York', by Jean Rollin) suits the ambient vibes of the song totally. The sample in the song is Imogen Heap's 'Just For Now' and is used with such skill and genius that it turns into a different song. It's why this song just doesn't fit the moniker of remix, it's completely different. Everything that's done in this song is perfection. And the hard slap of the snare and that almost empty kick give it attitude enough to make it seem attractive to rappers, but minus Lil B, this track is a masterpiece.

What's interesting to note is the amount of space. As with a lot of modern hip-hop, where every space is occupied by a trembling electronic note or some ever-expanding synth, Clams Casino seems to worship the space he is given, making sure that what he builds over the top is well-thought out. After all, we need space to breathe. The minimalist speaks again with 'Motivation', another Lil B backer - and much better effort from B than his vocals on 'I'm God' if you ask me.

Clams Casino really utilises space in this song for some awesome dynamism; even the smallest things give the track a huge push towards perfection - for example, a tiny spot of clever production lies in the song at 1:59. Just a millisecond of nothing before those crashing cymbals and determined drums come back in. It's a gorgeous song overall, helped very much by the slow tempo sample. Where's it from?

"Well, the sample in "Motivation" is based on a 30-second clip of a voice and some noise in the background that I found online. I just search for free sounds-- that's how I get all my drum sounds," he said in an interview for Pitchfork. Everything about his songs is chopped up, he says. He makes anything, from Adele's 'Hometown Glory' (used on 'Realist Alive') to Imogen Heap, sound like his and his alone. And in all the chopped up, cut up, sampled slow downs and quick snap drums, there's nothing like that sounds like anything I've ever heard.

And this is handy, as now Clams (@clammyclams on Twitter) wants to focus on putting out instrumentals and instrumentals only, thinking that rappers ask for tracks they don't use. He's put out his mixtape for all to hear - download that here. Failing that, enjoy these two songs and have a look for more on YouTube. He is active on the site (see his comment above), which means that we might start to see his account putting out a ton of new stuff soon. For now, you can revel in what he has put out already and enjoy the ambient hip-hop of a truly 21st Century producer.

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