Samiyam – Sam Baker's Album
The second LP from LA-based instrumental hip-hop producer Samiyam thankfully evinces a far greater breadth of imagination than its title suggests. Sam Baker’s Album gathers seventeen vignettes together, each a discrete self-contained unit, but with clear commonalities across the whole. The obvious reference point is another LA artist, Flying Lotus, with whom Samiyam has previously collaborated: the same narcotic, jittery beats are present here, lurching woozily through electro-funk samples.
While this collection doesn’t really have any sense of narrative, that shouldn’t necessarily be taken as a criticism. Tracks like Frosting Packets and Cushion encapsulate recent developments in instrumental hip-hop in microcosm: samples swirl organically in and out of the mix – mewling kittens, retro synths and videogame bleeps – and the whole hangs together like a collage, disjointed yet addictive. Sam Baker’s Album works within a fairly narrow set of methodological constraints, but within those, it demonstrates impressive ingenuity. [Sam Wiseman]