With a CV boasting collaborators such as Drake, Solange, Kanye West and SBTRKT, Sampha Sisay has already begun his career in some style. As both a writer and producer it is no surprise that South London born Sisay has now turned the focus to his own material. Building on the success of last year, Sampha has just released Process: a cordial blend of R&B, electronic and pop music. Sampha’s debut as a solo artist makes the often-awkward transition from mixing desk to music making as smoothly as the record itself. Process is a beautiful fusion of dramatic pop and more dejected, wistful melodies. The combination of sparkling grooves and the more unsettling synthesised sounds in ‘Kora Sings’ and ‘Reverse Faults’ offer a thrilling listening experience, whilst ‘Under’ excites as it climaxes in pure despondent ecstasy.
The record is obviously personal, and nowhere more can this be seen in the ballad ’(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano’, Sampha’s voice isolated with just a piano for accompaniment. Process is ladened with pain and emotion, perhaps influenced by the death of Sisay’s mother, and both lyric and sound add to the ghostly atmosphere running throughout the record. Sampha’s beautifully fragile yet understated tone in ‘What Shouldn’t I Be?’ seems to continually cry out to the overarching, supernatural ambience of the record. However, whether Sisay created this record for personal reasons or not is beside the point. What matters is that it feels personal.
Process is full of maturity and Sampha’s experience of working with some of the leading artists around shines through in abundance. This album should project Sampha into a sustained and fulfilling solo career, surely starting with recognition in the form of a nomination at the 2017 Mercury Prize.
Words by: Ellis