Over the past two years I have become really conscious of how seasonal cycles affect my listening patterns, and what sorts of sounds I gravitate towards at each point in the year. For me, winter is R&B, Trance, Hip-Hop, and flow.
Having lived in the Midwest for my entire life thus far, the trick to winter isn’t so much insulation as it is patience. It drags on and on… and on. I was just in LA this past weekend for LOUD NOISES! at the NerdMelt Theater, and I’m pretty sure that winter just isn’t a thing out west (mid 50s does not merit a fur coat, diva at LAX!). When it gets cold here, it stays cold, and the best way I know how to deal with it is to distract myself with something that requires immersion and concentration.
Enter Mike Volpe, aka Clams Casino. Volpe is a 23-year-old producer from New Jersey whose understated beats have become something of an enigma to me recently. Here is my confusion: As much as he crafts songs in the headspace of trip-hop, with eerie vocal samples and oozy, mellow synths, his tracks are concurrently functional in the maximal world of hip-hop — Casino has spent the last year or so producing tracks for Lil B, A$AP Rocky, and Soulja Boy. When I started listening to Clams Casino this summer, I heard him in the context of hip-hop and did not really think much of him, as I was instead focusing on the rap lyrics. But listening to his isolated instrumentals has really compelled me to appreciate the complexity and versatility of his music. His eponymous debut could be on anyone’s “chill” playlist, and yet I would have little reservation about dougie-ing (If someone finally showed me how already) to one of his A$AP tracks.
The only thing I can say for sure is that I will be revisiting Clams Casino plenty throughout the next couple of months. Pondering the enveloping glow of his music and blasting my Honda’s heat directly into my face is exactly how I plan to make it to May.