If I Was To
You only have to hear a couple of bars of Samuel's music to realise there is something very special going on.
The exuberant, widescreen electronic production alone is special. The songs thrust forward excitingly, all colourful bleeps and bass, and drums as informed by hip hop as dance music. Then Samuel starts to sing, and the music becomes truly startling. With a voice that's more Frank Ocean than James Blake, this 'wee gypsy,' as he describes himself, has a soulful tone so natural and unforced its absolutely thrilling.
His debut EP for Technicolour, produced by Okzharp from Hyperdub's LV, takes in everything from slowed rave stabs, electronic urban blues, sexualised incantations and yearning soul. Samuel sounds like someone who'd more likely have come from the projects of New York than the nuns and gypsy camps of Ireland - but crucially, he doesn't sound like he's trying to.
"I made the songs when it was late night/early morning,' he says, "when you have a bit of a swagger on and think that you can probs do a bit more than you can manage come the next morning. Mostly at our house in the forest and the wee stars were out and they became blaggy rave up stars and we made visuals to show this too.. So, stars are the main obsessive on here."
If ever music has captured the sense of being young in a big city, thrusting out into a night full of promise, this is it. It’s tempting to hear some of Samuel’s pre-history in 'slimy gypsy camps' in the music's freedom, wildness and touch of devilment. Falling Star is somehow both restless and reflective, and as beautiful as electronic music comes.
The wonderfully titled "Death Star Wonder" stomps along gloriously, layers of sub bass and an addictive kick driving glittering synths; a rich backdrop for Samuel’s yearning vocal. This is London music at its finest. As Samuel says "hopefully I can line up the romance with the ragged bits and have that be a bit nice. It's a bit persistent, lonesome and fully thrilling in London, right?"
It's not hard to tell that Samuel is a very special musician. Just play those opening bars.