April 24, 2009

Samiyam – Rap Beats Vol. 1 (2008, Brainfeeder)

Samiyam caught my attention when he released a 12” last year on Hyperdub with four tripped-out hip hop instrumentals in a warped chip-tune style. The production struck me as hyper-futuristic and off-kilter, and very listenable in spite of the fact that I don’t usually have much patience for chip-tunes, as they tend to be inherently extremely lo-fi sounding. When I checked out Samiyam’s myspace page, I found he was selling a CDR of his Rap Beats with hand-made covers. I ordered a copy, as I think the best way to support an artist is buying merch from them directly. It kind of took *forever* to actually arrive in the mail, but the wait was worth it. Rap Beats Vol. 1 features 24 untitled tracks, most of which don’t break the minute-and-a-half mark. But the beats themselves are genuinely brain-bending and very fresh. Layers of funk samples cut in and out with surreal film clips and sound fx, over a bed of not-quite-quantized hip hop beats. It is like a new kind of triphop to my ears. Lately I have heard some similar instrumental styles coming from some labels in Amsterdam, but Samiyam seems to be the best of the bunch so far. Every element in each track seems almost perfect, and the short length actually works really well, although I suspect ideally they would be mixed into each other seamlessly in a live set. This seems to be Samiyam’s method in concert, a killer clip of which can be seen on Youtube. Samiyam has been collaborating with Flying Lotus, a fellow LA local who has been having a big deal made of him in the hipster press lately, so hopefully we’ll be hearing a new full-length soon.