Clams Casino’s 32 Levels is a well-rounded enjoyable hip hop and Alt R&B album, which has impressed critics. However, it is not that album I am recommending to you. Rather I am recommending you go out and buy the deluxe edition, which comes with the added bonus of having all the original instrumentals of each track on 32 Levels.
In recent years Clams Casino has thrilled with a selection of free downloadable Eps made up of instrumentals, which have gone on to be used by some of the biggest names in hip hop and Alt RnB today, such as Kelela. And again on his debut album, whilst the vocals are enjoyable and sometimes great, it is inevitably the beats which stand out.
Clams Casino’s sound is at first strange to the ear consisting of Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin style synths coupled with fractured and half time hip hop and trap beats. However it is a sound that is not only unique but works to brilliant effect. The strangeness of the sound becoming the artists’ trademark.
Unlike most hip hop producers Clams Casino is a big fan of subtlety, less is more, or in the case of the instrumentals less is beautiful. I say this as one of the stand out elements of 32 levels is the beauty which is darkly conveyed throughout, but particularly in opening track Level 1. This sense of shadowy beauty is further enhanced by Clams Casinos’ use of pitched up vocal samples, as heard on the track 32 Levels, the use of such production trickery really does create a sound that at times verges on disturbing whilst still successfully remaining within the realms of beauty.
The instrumental version of 32 Levels is short and with such multi-faceted tracks that often abruptly change direction the listener is always engaged and kept interested. If you pick up a copy of this, you will return to it again and again both to engage with its melancholic beauty but also to allow your ears to pick apart the album’s complexity.
The full version of 32 Levels has been a critical success and is sure to be a commercial one too. However, for fans of engaging and interesting music, grab the deluxe edition and enjoy the hauntingly beautiful instrumental talents of one of hip hops most unique producers.