It’s taken many years, but Sampha’s debut album ‘Process’ really does fulfill all the hopes his admirers had pinned on it.
If patience is a virtue, then fans of Sampha are some of the more virtuous people on this planet. After making a name for himself as one of the premier neo-soul vocal talents in 2011 after featuring on the sumptuous R&B efforts of Jessie Ware and SBTRKT, it’s safe to say that the hype has been brewing for some time for the Londoner’s debut record.
Process is a testament to the belief of exacting standards and patience paying dividends; opening track ‘Plastic 100°C’ begins with a series of choral sounds working with Sampha’s multi-tracked vocal, it’s a restrained opener that teases what is to come. The instrumentation of the record is something to be admired; where others may have put too much of an emphasis on the (and I can’t stress this enough) phenomenal vocals, the LP evolves constantly thanks to Rodaidh McDonald’s help on production.
‘Kora Sings’ begins as a minimalist piece of Mediterranean infused acoustics before emerging into a pop behemoth; glitched electronics and a rolling percussion take precedence with the drum progression of SBTRKT clearly helping to curate one of the album’s strongest moments. Elsewhere, ‘Reverse Faults’ is an intriguing blend of Active Child styled stripped back electronica. Whilst ‘(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano’ is a powerful, yet simplistic, homage to his piano, it’s pure and sumptuous as the ballad never fails to captivate.
Comparisons to James Blake have been a constant for Sampha, and during tracks like ‘Timmy’s Prayer’, the tonal similarities are apparent as Sampha verges into a more avant-garde style of delivery to the sound, not dissimilar to the work of Blake on his eponymous 2011 debut. Whilst moments on the LP show a lot of restraint with only quaint nods to pop, ‘Blood On Me’ shows Sampha at his most accessible. Musically the track works wonders to help deliver the anxious state of Sampha; grandiose percussion and the urgency of the instrumentation help the track rollick along as the climatic album leaves the listener in a state of bliss.
If Sampha’s fans gained virtue in their half-decade wait for a debut record to drop, then in Process they have been given another gift; throughout the album’s forty minutes, the record dazzles in its restraint and excites in its freshness. Sampha has long stood in the background whilst other soared into the distance, now it is his turn in the spotlight, and on the basis of Process it will be a light that will shine brightly for decades to come. Mercury Prize anyone? (8/10) (John Tindale)
Listen to Process here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!
Tags: album, John Tindale, Process, review, Sampha, Sampha Sisay, Young Turks
Reading Music Journalism at Huddersfield University, I have a passion for all things musical. I pride myself on being open minded in music genres and have a love of writing to match. The coolest cat on The Student Playlist, I also support Hartlepool United and am an avid pro-wrestling fan.
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