Clams Casino
Instrumental Mixtape


3.5
great

Review

by Conrad Tao EMERITUS
May 21st, 2011 | 51 replies | 13,884 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Clams Casino marks his distinctive sonic territory and, most importantly, promises much more.

Clams Casino is a genuine oddity. Not that 23-year-old New Jersey resident and physical therapy student Mike Volpe is particularly eccentric in any way; rather, the entire concept behind his work making beats for an impressively high-profile group of MySpace-era rappers like Soulja Boy and Lil B stands out in the increasingly crowded field of hip-hop production. Volpe produces from his mother's attics, culls samples from file-sharing websites, and has taken a stage name from a Rhode Island seafood dish that he's never had. And his first mixtape, culled from instrumentals he's made for various rappers over the last few years and made available for free download this past April, is one of the most exciting records I've heard all year. Which isn't to say that it's one of the best albums of the year; the simplistic synth lines and staid beats of "What You Doin'" and "Brainwash By London" sound clumsily amateurish, and even in the tape's best tracks, there's a sense that Volpe is holding something back. But this mixtape has something crucial that so many records of its type lack - it has a point of view.

This comes through loud and clear on achingly gorgeous tracks like "Numb" and "I'm Official", which are driven by thick, nearly lo-fi kicks and snares surrounded by dreamy, hypnotizing vocal samples. Indeed, Volpe's approach to sampling is a refreshingly abstract one; his splicing of Björk's "Bachelorette" on the stunning "Illest Alive" is an artful reinterpretation of that song's soaring melody, and its oddly affecting counterpart, "Realist Alive", takes Adele's "Hometown Glory" and drags it out until we're left with a beautifully syrupy concoction. These songs all have, in addition to their appealing sonic flourishes, a strong sense of structure that's lacking in some of the mixtape's less convincing moments. "She's Hot" is an infectious, bass-heavy thumper that merely hobbles along when it ideally would reach a satisfying climax. Occasionally, Volpe's sampling lapses into painfully obvious territory, as is the case with his anemic take on Janelle Monáe's "Cold War". Volpe simply takes Monáe's chorus and loops it over and over again, pairing it with a rather staid beat and robbing the song of its original vivacity. But when considering this mixtape's lulls, it's worth remembering that these songs are all, with the exception of the aforementioned highlight "Numb" and the strange closing untitled track, instrumentals for rap tracks. And so, although Volpe's music already stands impressively well on its own, this mixtape is, at its core, a hugely enticing teaser for what promises to be an illustrious career filled with sumptuous, bittersweet music.



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user ratings (150)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
conradtao
Emeritus
May 21st 2011



2088 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This review is dedicated to Adam Thomas.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
May 21st 2011



10585 Comments


I liked How to Dress Well and Burial. You've piqued my interests...


Excellence as always : )

Digging: United Nations - The Next Four Years

Athom
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2011



17200 Comments


despite its few clunkers when he's on he's really fucking on.

shazwagon
May 21st 2011



84 Comments


I really, really like this album. But have only been able to get low quality download of this. Where can I buy this?

Athom
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2011



17200 Comments


its a mixtape. go download it from his website. no need to buy


conradtao
Emeritus
May 21st 2011



2088 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, the fidelity is pretty low but to be honest, for the music the lo-fi nature almost works.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2011



14990 Comments


IM GOD

captaincrunch11
May 21st 2011



1198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

So fucking good.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2011



15727 Comments


more? dont you do school or something??

awesome again

Digging: Alvvays - Alvvays

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2011



30883 Comments


It's okay. There's some really nice moments here but he fucks it up more times than not

Digging: FaltyDL - In The Wild

conradtao
Emeritus
May 21st 2011



2088 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"more? dont you do school or something??"

Independent study, so I don't go to typical class. Besides, I'm in Dallas right now for work.

Tupik
May 22nd 2011



671 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review, makes me want to check this out

kingsoby1
Emeritus
July 18th 2011



4940 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

wow this is amazing so far

captaincrunch11
July 19th 2011



1198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Motivation is bumpinnnn

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
July 19th 2011



30883 Comments


Listening to this again and I gotta say it's really bland

kingsoby1
Emeritus
July 20th 2011



4940 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

gotta turn it way up in your car

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
July 21st 2011



30883 Comments


Idk, this seems like it would work better as headphone music

kingsoby1
Emeritus
July 21st 2011



4940 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

f that

anyway i think this guy has some of the most potential out of any young hiphop producer right. just needs to stop working with chodes.

Gyromania
July 21st 2011



15200 Comments


Nothing really stands out as much as "Motivation," but I enjoy this quite a bit.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
July 21st 2011



4940 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

motivation is incredible. i like mostly everything but there are like 2-3 clunkers



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