Clams Casino: 32 Levels (Columbia) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Clams Casino

32 Levels


Jul 15, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

The New Jersey producer Clams Casino is known for deep core beat mining, crushing ground under the weight of deliberate tempo drum drops, releasing gasses that form smoggy, hazy surroundings with enchanting hues. This galvanizing formula has emerged in a series of instrumental collections, beginning with 2007's leviathan Rainforest EP, that have attracted beat lovers and vocalists alike. Now Clams Casino has made the jump to Columbia Records and finally released his debut full-length with them, 32 Levels.

32 Levels makes you wish Clams Casino would find a solo level of solitude where his music can flourish without interference. The logical and all too assumed progression from your production style commanding attention is identifying artists with a mutual admiration to bless your tracks. The issue with Clams is that his team-ups with MC's and singers have often been light on intrigue. An album of instrumentals from a producer with a distinctive creative style, like this one, need not be cluttered with guest vocal appearances. Apart from when Future Islands' Sam Herring comes out from behind a tree with an old wizard's rumble on "Ghost In a Kiss," most of the remaining lyrical contributions to 32 Levels, even from Vince Staples and A$AP Rocky, range from decent to deleterious. There's enough of a voice in Clams Casino's own compositional phrase already that adding ordinary verses can clash with his tempestuous sound.

A producer's repertoire can leap to life with the addition of vocal artistry, as with Pete Rock for example, or it can be obscured and drowned out. In crafting beats here with other entities in mind, something of Clams' assertive expressionism is compromised. It's no shock then that the two most captivating tracks, "Skull" and album send-off "Blast," are canvases without text. Thankfully the deluxe edition of the album includes all the instrumental versions. (

Author rating: 4/10

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