Artist Profile:Clams Casino

The album cover for Instrumentals, a difficult to obtain mixed tape that came out in 2011.

I am constantly on the lookout for something different. Several years ago, I ditched the belief that music without vocals has no meaning. That statement makes it sound like purely instrumental music is not even all that much worth listening to. I was never big into instrumental music until I discovered electronic rock or “electronica”. It combines all of the rock based instrumentals with some techno influences and usually has few if any lyrics. It is an incredibly unique style and the best part of it is that it has almost unlimited replay value. It takes me much longer to become burned out on this kind of music. Why that is, I’m not really sure. If I had to guess, it might be due to how difficult it is to find quality music in this genre.  Some of the earlier acts I listened to and encourage you to check out would be Moby, Boards of Canada, and The Prodigy.

Today I want to focus on a recently discovered artist. You’ve likely never heard of Mike Volpe or his stage name, Clams Casino, unless you’re big into the electronic music scene. Volpe is from New Jersey and has released one full length EP, Rainforest. Other than that, most of his productions are mixed tapes that you can usually find on the web if you look hard enough. He has worked with a few rap artists (all of whom I’ve never heard of) and has also sampled the works of some female artists as well. The most notable of them would be Imogen Heap. He mixed her vocals from her song “Just for Now” with his beats to create a remarkable track arrogantly titled “I’m God“.

“Treetops” is a aptly named track off his EP, Rainforest. It takes you away from your often hectic urban/suburbanite lifestyle to a place more primitive. The track starts out with some stock jungle sounding creatures but then moves onto something incredibly surreal right off the bat. It is difficulty for me to describe the many instrumentals going on during this song because they blend so well together. Specifically, all of the chaos comes together to make for a great run of instrumental bliss @2:02. I also enjoy the breakdown and buildup that occurs near the beginning of the song (@0:23) See what you think, hopefully you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. Songs like “Treetops” are ones that stay with you for a long time.

The next song I’ve decided to include is “All I Need”. This is much more slow and non-progressive. The vocals border on repetitive, but that is simply a staple of Clams Casino. He finds the vocals he likes the best, and he samples them throughout his song to give the listener what he feels they want to hear. I would still argue that this is one of his songs that sounds like it’s on a loop. The rhythm changes few times and that is usually only when the percussion is dropped. The vocals being altered are what I think is supposed to be the main point of this song. I’m sure there are some that would label this song as boring because the slow rhythm of it doesn’t really go anywhere, but I still believe it’s a good song. It’s one to just sit back and zone out to.

The face behind some of electronica’s finest pieces of art

Slow tracks like the previous one help to set up some of Volpe’s best. Another track off of the fabled Instrumentals is “Real Shit from a Real Nigga” The song title would have you expect that you’re about to hear a rap song. While artists like Lil’ B have sampled it and rapped along with it, I think it has a more electronica or even future pop sound to it. It has a cool subtle intro and then introduces you to one of the best synth lines I’ve ever heard during my existence @0:32. I’m not really a fan of most of the rap songs that accompany Volpe’s productions. Volpe’s works are great listens when they stand alone. There really is no need to add rapping to a song that wasn’t produced FOR those lyrics. I’m not against the idea of adding to what is already a great song, but I don’t think it works in this case. Fortunately for you, you don’t have to get wrapped up in all of that. Just enjoy these brilliant instrumentals for what they are.