Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Clams Casino has Reached New Heights with “Instrumental Mixtape 4”

The ethereal hip-hop producer bring out his fourth collection of pounding beats and consuming bass

“Instrumental Mixtape 4,” has listeners fully submerged in a world of deep bass and hard drums so they lose track of time as the nebulous harmonies take them away. Mike Volpe under the name Clams Casino, released his newest mixtape June 24, opening with “Say Your Prayers,” a track that features piano and bells, but mostly drums.

“Say Your Prayers,” an original song, has a sound that echoes like a church choir while the drums pound noticeably. This is the traditional Clams Casino sound that fans have embraced from the past four mixtapes and the single album “32 Levels,” released last year.

The producer has become incredibly valuable to hip-hop artists such as A$AP Ferg, Danny Brown, and Vince Staples who all have instrumentals featured on this mixtape. These rappers are taking advantage of Clams Casino’s signature sound of enveloping beats, amorphous sounds, and hard hitting percussion, like A$AP Ferg’s feature, “Uncle.”

The mixtape begins to take a different turn with the other original instrumental, “Wavey,”. Clams Casino shows his experimental side by using a harsher, more distorted noise. While the song initially sounds familiar to his sound, it begins to take a different turn as the bass becomes overwhelming and breaks through the other instruments. Through hits like “Wavey” on this mixtape, Clams Casino is showing how he can change the way we think of hip-hop production.

This mixtape is a step above Clams Casino’s other work because of its polished finish and desire to experiment with new sounds and styles. Right after the experimental track “Wavey,” is his remix of DJ Shadow’s “Stem / Long Stem,” featuring spoken word and a lower focus on the drums.

Other tracks such as tracks “Worth It” and “Norf Norf” focus heavily on the drums and percussion. The former includes almost none of the enveloping sounds that Clams Casino is known for, while the latter does have a relatively smaller emphasis on the underlying bass.

The middle of the mixtape, starting from “Worth It,” to “Kali Yuga,” does leave the listener lacking some of the head bumping and consuming sounds that is expected with Clams Casino. “Leave With You,” an enjoyable listen, remedies this by including a simple melody and drum line. With no vocal samples, the listener is left to focus on the complicated drum lines, only to realize the melody has a simple, yet driving style.

The mixtape slows down again with the final three songs: the remix of Sia’s “Elastic Heart,” “Talk It,” and “Summertime.” All of these songs feature a slower moving finale to the mixtape, when compared to the hard-hitting “Norf Norf” and “Worth It.” The “Elastic Heart” remix particularly stands out as it sounds like a completely different song than Sia’s original, a testament to the skill that Clams Casino has at creating and remixing music. He is not just a producer who adds bass and drums, he is an artist who has perfected his sound and craft enough to be able to create it in any situation.

While these last three songs have a somber and slow sound, there is a hopefulness that comes up over the entrancingly deep bass. Clams Casino is not just another hip-hop producer, his sound is what has changed rap music to embrace the importance of what is underneath. As the last notes of “Instrumental Mixtape 4” slowly fade out into static and the listener is left to think in silence, we are reminded of the powerful emotion that Clams Casino can create.

“Instrumental Mixtape 4” was released for free through Clams Casino’s Twitter and website.

mvalenti@theeagleonline.com


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