21 March

And the best album of 2017 goes to... Sampha

 

Having collaborated with Drake, Solange, Kanye West and Frank Ocean, Sampha is now making waves of his own with Process, a first opus that combines mind-blowing soul with ethereal electro. The best album of the year so year...

By Thibaut Wychowanok

Aged 28, Sampha has already given his voice, soft and tender with emotion, to some of today's most beautiful R’n’B tracks. Discovered in 2011 on electro groupSBTRKT's first album, the British man started working with Drake in 2013 (on tracks Too Much and The Motion). 2016 was the jackpot year. Kanye WestFrank Ocean and Solange all called upon him for their respective albums. The Holy Trinity of R'n'B seemed to be touched by his grace.

 

For 2017 the young man continues his ascent as a solar souled star with a fantastic first opus. The Brit eschews any categories to offer a sensitive music that blends a trip-hop resurgence, R’n’B crooner style ballads and piano-vocal pieces with a pure fragility, mutant digital experimentation a la Arca and West African instruments. “It’s probably to do with my way of creating very freely. I pick up the mic and see what comes out. Or I might just play the piano for hours on end. The Blood On Me and Plastic 100°, for example, both come from the same improvisation session.”

 

 

Sampha offers a sensitive soul sound that blends a trip-hop resurgence, R’n’B crooner style ballads and piano-vocal pieces with a pure fragility and mutant digital experimentation.

Sampha - (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano

Stripped of any prestigious featurings, and eminently more personal and intimate, Process exalts the singer’s daily existence (and his torments: sickness, death) in heart breaking stories that are universal. “I tend to be carried along by introspection,” admits the artist on a trip through Paris, “I don’t think you have to reveal the truth about your feelings in the heat of the moment. I prefer to give myself time to reflect.”

 

Opening the album, the ethereal and delicate Plastic 100° has all the allure of a morning dream bathed in the first rays of sunlight. In it however Sampha deals with illness: the appearance of a lump in his throat and the echoes of this discovery ringing through his family history, the illness of his mother, who he sat by as he wrote the album. As the central element in (No One Knows Me) Like the Piano and generally in all of Sampha’s music, the piano evokes the one his father brought him when the artist was just 3 years old. A father who died a few years later…

 

 

The ethereal and delicate Plastic 100° has all the allure of a morning dream bathed in the first rays of sunlight. In it however Sampha deals with illness.​

Sampha - Blood On Me

Once again, far from playing on profound pathos, the track uplifts, as if the ghosts that haunt the album take it to more radiant skies. The fragility of the album and its musicality all in its delicate nuances is undoubtedly in part due to this early awareness of death – Sampha wrote the album between the ages of 25 and 28. “Death is an intense experience. You feel it physically. The album expresses this type of very physical sensations and powerful experiences,” the musician confirms.

 

 

“Death is an intense experience. You feel it physically. The album expresses this type of very physical sensations and powerful experiences,” Sampha

 

 

Penetrated with a luminescent spirituality, his music is a worthy heir to gospel church music – if a more intimate and muted version. The pain of loss is expressed through the celebration of life more than morbid recollection. “I never talk about spirituality. But if you mean am I interested in the unknown aspect of the world, the inaccessible that remains in everything, then yes, I am interested in spirituality.”

 

A masterpiece in catharsis and a perfectly current hybridised music, Process succeeds in transforming the spirituality and fears of Sampha into solar compositions shot through with enveloping beats. His voice is as stunning as it is generous; as if after having watched over his mother when she was sick, today he is keeping a benevolent eye on us.

 

Process (Young Turks / Beggars), now available.

 

 

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