First Listen

First Listen: Samiyam, 'Sam Baker's Album'

Sam Baker's Album, the second full-length record from enigmatic beatmaker Samiyam, comes out July 5. i i

hide captionSam Baker's Album, the second full-length record from enigmatic beatmaker Samiyam, comes out July 5.

Theo Jemison
Sam Baker's Album, the second full-length record from enigmatic beatmaker Samiyam, comes out July 5.

Sam Baker's Album, the second full-length record from enigmatic beatmaker Samiyam, comes out July 5.

Theo Jemison

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It's the middle of Teebs' set at the Bowery Ballroom in New York, and the crowd is swaying lightly to an entrancing waterfall of harps and drum loops. All of a sudden, a low-frequency pop pushes through the audience, and we're jolted out of our hypnosis as if we were all stung by a bee at exactly the same time. Not painful — just impossible to keep from moving like a madman. Teebs cracks a smile at the warm reaction and asks, "Y'all know Samiyam?" If they didn't before, they do now.

Under the direction of Flying Lotus, the L.A.-based label Brainfeeder has been contorting the basic elements of hip-hop into ever more bizarre and mesmerizing concoctions. From the acoustic jazz of Austin Peralta to the aforementioned chilled-out bliss of Teebs to the increasingly melodious sounds of Tokimonsta, the label is pushing sample-based break beats to all ends of the music universe.

Samiyam's music resides at the filthiest end of that spectrum. To be clear, that's not trash talk — "filthy" best describes the grating synths that flop around in the mud of "Understanding." "Filthy" is what comes to mind when my face scrunches up at the sound of the stumbling banger "Wonton Special," forcing my head forward at regular intervals to the back-and-forth between the bass kick and snare. With Sam Baker's Album, out June 28, I'm swamped in filthy basslines, and I'm down to muck around.

That's not to say that there isn't anything to chill out to on this record; though most cuts are soaked through on the low end, they're balanced by laid-back, leaning tempos throughout. The tracks are short, with none cracking the four-minute mark. Every time that head-nod starts nodding off, watch out for that low, rumbling pop — it's there to bring you back into the mess.

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First Listen