In rotation: Clams Casino’s ‘Rainforest’

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A series in Sunday Calendar about what Times writers & contributors are listening to right now...

New Jersey producer Clams Casino makes drunken, woozy beats that sound like they’ve been soaked on the floor of the tropical rain forest of this EP’s title. His beats are thick and mysterious, soggy with echo, and the strange noises he populates his three- and four-minute tracks with are deep and rich. He tucks tiny 8-bit sounds way in the back and will sneak in creaks and chirps on oddly spaced 16th notes, while organ chord clusters wash over muffled rhythms like lost Boards of Canada works (the Scottish duo is an obvious touchstone).

He’s best known for the rappers who have commissioned him: That’s him making Lil B’s “I’m God” sound as freaky as the rapper is chaotic, and he’s worked with Havoc of Mobb Deep for “Always Have a Choice” in 2009 (not either’s best work, though). Soulja Boy, taking Lil B’s lead, uses a trippy Clams rhythm on “2 Milli.”

But it’s not the rappers who make a Clams Casino beat shine, as the all-instrumental “Rainforest” EP proves; it’s how each is a distinct creation upon which rhymes are often the least interesting parts, how they stand on their own as compositions, how they reveal new nooks and crannies the louder you turn up the stereo. “Gorilla” sounds like a ’90s trip-hop track stuck in quicksand; “Treetop” is a National Geographic acid trip: bird songs, frog croaks and insect crackles funneled through hot springs. Clams Casino
“Rainforest” EP
(Tri Angle Records)



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— Randall Roberts