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An Informal Album Review: “Process”

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British musician Sampha Sisay, or simply known as Sampha, delivered fans a strip-down take on the popular alternative electronic genre on his latest album, “Process,” released Feb. 3.

Most people probably hear the name Sampha and are genuinely confused. When our News Editor, Tom Jenkins, told me about him, I had no inkling of an idea who he was, or what to expect from the music at all; going into an album blindly is something I typically avoid – I really like to read about artists and the various processes associated with creating their art.

Some of Sampha’s most noteworthy contributions are big name acts. He worked on Drake’s “Nothing Was The Same,” Kanye West’s latest, “The Life of Pablo” and Frank Ocean’s visual album, “Endless,” released exclusively on Apple Music. Seeing these credits kind of hyped me up a lot. Sampha is associated with all of these stars, so understandably, his debut album would be full of features, big name producers and those wonderful “club bangers” everyone looks for, but no. Sampha delivers in fact, the opposite, to my delight.

“Process” is roughly 40 minutes long and delivers a thought out, intimate, piano laden package of 10 tracks. Some of the highlights for me included the hypnotizing “Plastic 100° C,” “(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano” and its tightly knit lyrics and “Under,” featuring a fresh layered vocal instrumental style unlike your typical layered vocal based beat.

To me, Sampha is akin to The Weeknd, except Sampha’s music is logical, thought-out and not just about drug-related woes. His lyrics are mysterious – they leave something to the imagination; “Sky high deflating ideas/thriving of your lessons and yes, you are my lantern/a shy light curves around my ears/the more you speak, the more I see/the more your lights grows upon me.” What could that mean? I could honestly sit down and try to think my way into finding serious meaning in the lyrics as opposed to a vapid, three minute experience that ultimately produces no feeling whatsoever.

There were a few times the album didn’t really work for me. The breathy vocals on “Blood On Me” just didn’t fit, “Kora Sings” kind of fell flat, albeit it was a dancey and I walked away from “What Shouldn’t I Be?,” the album’s closing track, with nothing written down on my note pad.

All in all, Sampha offers a good break from the R&B based alt-electronic pop hits and provides listeners with something you can really sit down with, something that has its basis in actual thought and emotion over the typical party scene music made to grab a quick million. Definitely check out “Process.”

Will Izzo can be contacted at [email protected]

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