Clams Casino – Instrumental Relics

I’m not sure if you’ve all come across the name Clams Casino before? He’s a hip-hop producer that while not single-handedly, was massively responsible for huge shifts in the direction of the genre. He produced beats for Lil B, ASAP Rocky and Soulja Boy, yep, a bunch of artists I know next to nothing about or if I am honest care for that much. I remember at the start of this blog a mini-album he released was nearly an AOTM choice form me … I can’t recall why I didn’t choose it.

I’d be lying if I said I’d followed his career closely but he’s continued to produce high quality instrumental hip hop since. And has now gone back to early recordings and mixtape tracks to curate an album of ‘instrumental relics’ including instrumental versions of some of his better known productions for Lil B and Asap Rocky.

The album, given this genesis, is surprisingly coherent. It hangs together beautifully. It’s great for working too. But more than anything for me, it shows how much better his music is than 99.9% of the musical-prozac-blah of the 8hr long spotify instrumental playlists designed for ‘focus’ or ‘study-beat’s etc. This is the sound of an artist blowing most of his peers out of the water.

Here’s a little glimpse into how his music sounds standalone vs. with Lil B …

AOTM (May 2020) – Mac Miller ‘Circles’

Hi Brothers. Another lockdown AOTM. However, lockdown has nothing to do with why I chose this album by Mac Miller. This album was released in early Feb. so for me, it’s history pre-dates ‘all-of-this’ / ‘what-with-one-thing-and-another’ / insert your favourite ‘lock-down-euphemism’.

I could have chosen less risky AOTM options but figured that we all know what the Strokes sound like. Therefore I chose Circles by Mac Miller. Again, I cannot claim to be a an expert in this artist. I came to this early in 2020 when surfing through Meta-album-of-the-year sites. This album kept on showing up in the upper reaches of their meta-review scores. Also, it seemed to be one where the listener scores were very similar to the critics reviews which always makes me pay attention. So, without any further fannying around I downloaded the album, got stuck in and found myself listening to this loads.

I found it a rewarding album to listen to in full and in parts when time was limited. Tracks started to stick in my mind and the the tracks started to open themselves open. When you first listen to it I can feel really pleasant and accessible, it will make you smile and feel pretty good about life. However, I would be surprised if at some point (early on) you didn’t think it was a little dispensable … but I do think it deserves a little more attention. There’s obviously a big chunk of melancholy driving this album. I noticed that when the tracks started to unfold on repeated listens a comfortable but uncomfortable feeling started to creep over me.

It was this odd feeling that made me go back and read the reviews of the album. I think I am glad that I listened first and then read the reviews later. It turns out that this is a posthumous release. Mac Miller died in 2018 of an apparently accidental overdose. The Guardian described him as a capable but derivative frat-rapper (didn’t even know frat-rap was a thing) who started to experiment on later albums with a softer approach. He was a mult-instrumentlist who collaborated with the LA instrumental hip-hop crowd (Flying Lotus et al.). He was also in a long standing relationship with Ariana Grande, the end of which sparked his turn in musical direction.

He released a critically acclaimed album ‘Swimming’ in 2018 before his death. He left a significant amount of material that was developed by Jon Brion (friend, producer, composer) with the blessing of his family. Jon has kept the feel of Swimming (which he co-produced) on this album. Sparse, gentle, elegant and spacious production allows this album to flow around what turns out to be some beautiful lyrical content.

I rate this album. I keep coming back to it. It seemed perfect on the cold, dark commutes into Manchester … and on the cold, dark commutes home. It’s great music to cook to. It has a low-F-bomb-count. Low enough that Stacey’s never noticed so it gets plenty of air-time in our house. It also felt like the perfect album when it was 23 degrees last weekend. I think this will stay with me for a long time. I can hear loads of influences but nothing that I think is over-bearing. There are moments of Neptunes-esque and Neptunes-quality production that make me smile. It’s a lovely little thing. I hope you enjoy it.

New Mix: DISCO DEMOLITION

First mix in – yikes – 3 years, or at least that’s what Soundcloud says.
Anyway, it does what it says on the tin. Hope you enjoy, got a lot of tracks I love on here:

https://soundcloud.com/garedunord/disco-demolition

Photo taken from the real Disco Demolition Night. Really interesting moment in musical history: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disco_Demolition_Night
https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/jul/19/disco-demolition-the-night-they-tried-to-crush-black-music