After a few quiet years, Clams Casino is returning with his grandest artistic statement yet. The producer born Michael Volpe emerged at the turn of the decade, producing breakthrough tracks for Lil B, A$AP Rocky and Main Attrakionz, and his lo-fi style – with its moody melodies, faraway vocal samples, and massive, in-the-red drums – came to define the sound known as “cloud rap” and make him an underground star in his own right. His trio of Instrumentals mixtapes remain required listening for fans of hip-hop, electronic music and all points in between, and he’s gone on to produce tracks for The Weeknd, FKA twigs, Vince Staples and other. But those collaborations have been increasingly rare recently, with his output seemingly limited to a handful of songs per year.
Thankfully, it was worth the wait. On July 15, Clams Casino will release 32 Levels, his debut album and first proper body of work since 2011’s Rainforest EP. The record (which takes its title from seminal Clams-produced Lil B track ‘I’m God’) charts his development from crafter of mixtape cuts to producer on major labels’ speed-dials. As Lil B collaborations give way to songs with singers like Kelela and Future Islands frontman Samuel T. Herring, the album tells the story of Clams’ creative growth. This is very much by design. “The sequence of it is really important to me, and that’s the only way it really works,” he says via Skype from his New Jersey home. “With the range of music and the different types of artists – the whole scope of it is so wide – it needs to be organized in a certain way.”