It’s been a daunting musical circuit for 28-year old Sampha Sisay. The South London native developed a natural musical style early on in his career with his off-kilter and futuristic flavored EPs, Sundanza and Dual. After collaborations with the likes of Aaron Jerome of SBTRKT, Drake, Solange, Kanye West and Frank Ocean, Sampha released his long-awaited debut LP, Process.
Process is pensive and meditative. As audiences listen, Sampha sweeps through his past through a kaleidoscopic lens, but dabbles in the vexation he braves in today with heartrending storytelling. Even with the circumstances he details, including the death of his mother due to cancer in 2015, anxiety spurring from newfound stardom and malignant relationships on his part, Sampha poetizes and makes audiences feel that they have experienced these same things.
Sampha begins the LP with an intricate weave of strings, his breathy, troubled voice and a sample from Neil Armstrong on lyrical standout “Plastic 100°C.” “I’ll work my way over into the sunlight here without looking directly into the sun,” says the astronaut, as the tone of the album is set with the ambient ballad. On the album’s 70’s Drumtrak hit, “Blood on Me,” Sampha and Scottish producer Rodaidh McDonald team up to master a shivering beat that specifies Sampha’s troubles with anxiety and sleep paralysis. Sampha shows his prowess in production on other tracks such as the non-western “Kora Sings,” in which he utilizes a 21-string West African lute to his likings, and “Reverse Faults,” in which he toys with reversed sounds and reversed polarity behind a trap-influenced instrumental. On the LP’s most heartfelt song, “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano,” a song dedicated to his late mother, Sampha cries anguish and uncertainty, as he passions with grief and realizes the extent of his mother’s love as the days pass.