Producer Clams Casino, known for tackling music with a bunch of big names such as FKA twigs and A$AP Rocky, has released his debut LP 32 Levels. The record features a wide array of artists from several genres, and combines elements of both hip-hop and electronica into one collection of songs.
There's two clear halves to this record. The first half is a very hip-hop centric collection of songs, while the second half takes a poppier route. Clams Casino produces beats and instrumentals for the tracks - and those are always spot on. The problem, however, lies with the features.
The first half of the record is very much hit-or-miss. Instrumentals are never the problem. There are some okay tracks like 'Be Somebody' featuring A$AP Rocky and Lil B, with a great instrumental but lyrics that just feel like one big name drop (with no real point of doing so) and 'All Nite' with Vince Staples which has a strong message but a horrible delivery. Then there's songs that have absolutely nothing interesting going for them - 'Witness' is just plain trash, while the next two tracks are just completely forgettable. The hip-hop half falls into the trap of becoming way too self-obsessed and sits itself on a high horse, perhaps the fault of the features. The lack of variation and climax makes it come and go, as if it never happened.
The poppier half has a more agreeable composure. Lots of strong voices bring a more refreshing palette to the album, a good contrast from the monotonous hip-hop side. Mikky Ekko sounds huge on 'Into The Fire', finally giving the album some feeling of exposition nearly three-fourths of the way into it. The same goes for 'Back To You' with Kelly Zutrau, the only song on the record that has some excitement to it with the build in its second chorus. Kelela features on 'A Breath Away', the song featuring Indian percussion that really adds a nice color to the record. Sadly, the second half has more going against it than it does for it (though, it has more to brag about that the earlier part of the album). Same Dew's track 'Thanks To You' starts promising but gets really repetitive with its slowly punching in-and-out synth instrumental, the slow and glitchy track not going anywhere for its three minute run, making the entire track blur together. 'Ghost In A Kiss' is some odd ASMR fusion with hip-hop, and it just doesn't go down well under any circumstance. The last track lacks any finality to the album, leaving it on a down note, as is the case with much of this record. There's no climax found anywhere in any track. Light choruses and slow verses rule this record, and there's nothing within them to show for.
Clams Casino produced some fantastic instrumentals, but failed to bring those anywhere of worth. This album fails to have a big defining moment and feels like background noise for much of it. A single track on this record has any sense of excitement in it. If you're looking for something to put on the background as to not pay attention to it, this is the one, because nothing will go on during it. Perhaps he should stick to getting his production credits.
Favorite Track: Back To You
Least Favorite Tracks: Blast, Witness, Ghost In A Kiss
Rating: 56 / 100