How to become one of the most desired musicians in the industry without releasing your own album? Ask Sampha. Since 2010 this man produced and remixed dozens of innovative and progressive tracks. His distinctive, sweet, but momentous voice features on longplays of such artists as Kanye, Frank, Beyoncé, Solange and Drake. Nevertheless, his solo work is relatively small. The truth is that he made us wait more than six years and finally this waiting period is rewarded with a surplus. Sampha took an opportunity to make his debut under Young Turks label (The XX, fka Twigs, SBTRKT and more) – the creative process was quite long but sometimes you just need to grow with it.
He does not lavish his audience – with poetic flair he talks about painful experiences from his life. Example? On “Kora Sings” he is portraying the story of a child weeping over his mother which is a reversed modern version of lamentation. You would expect some kind of piano arrangement, but he decided to go with upbeat, tribal music which is also very relaxing and soothing at the same time. Track ends with sounds of rain and storm – a metaphor for grief when you lost someone you love. On the other hand, in a wonderful “(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano” he is going back to his childhood. It could be a wistful retrospection but the author focuses on understatement, leaving the recipient with a head full of ideas.
Sampha’s voice is a factor that dictates how everything goes on this record. His vocals are so emotional, versatile and original that they match perfectly with raw ballads just as much as with rich sounds of today’s R&B like “Timmy’s Prayer” produced by one and only Kanye West. In the opener “Plastic 100°C” or “Blood On Me” that are describing his fight with depression, he could liven up the production a bit, but he is keeping a safe distance by making his tracks to sound like they are unfinished. That’s the biggest advantage of Process – none of the songs are squeezed in 100% which gives a lot of satisfaction when discovering all the layers of sounds one by another.
Most of the lyrics are based on unpleasant and personal experiences. With their help he reminds to his listeners what things in life are the most valuable, talking about lessons he definitely learned. Life is a process and Sampha is a sensitive man – he leaves so many open questions in his music and lyrics that cannot be described, cause there is too much room for interpretation. Sampha gave us an invitation to his world full of ambiguities but you need to be a very careful listener to get there. There is no other way.
Best tracks: Blood On Me, Kora Sings, (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano, Timmy’s Prayer, Incomplete Kisses
(8.2 / 10)