Sam Davidson, a.k.a Skim Milk, provides a stark reminder that originality can be built from a wide variety of musical influences. This self-titled release offers a multi-faceted listening experience, pulling from a multitude of genres and sounds — jazz, experimental, electronic, and hip-hop — making it a treat for anyone looking to listen to something a little different and innovative.
Skim Milk’s hooks are driven by dancing clarinet lines backed by drum samples and waves of synths, giving the album a high degree of flow from track to track. Despite running a little on the long side, the record is cohesive, original, and fresh.
Even though Skim Milk has a unified sound, there are some true stand out moments. In the second track “Two Ways Out,” Skim Milk has incorporated piano lines, clarinet, and synthy drum beats into an interesting experimental mix of sounds. Similar moments pop up in “Truth and Consequence.” “Blood Sweat and Tears” is only two minutes and 31 seconds long, but is a great slow-build tune. The swell of trumpet on top of a twirling clarinet solo is an example of Davidson’s ability to combine layers of different instruments while also smoothly transitioning the record into the finale,“Heartbeat.”
Davidson’s influences range from Bach to Boards of Canada, and both are relevant and can be heard clearly in this record. Specializing in clarinet, bass clarinet, and electric wind instruments (EWIs), Davidson’s clarinet pieces can be heard far above the variety of instruments (trumpets, bass, guitar, and trombone) and musicians he pulled in to make this record. Davidson states on his website that he strived to create “the world’s first clarinet-infused hip-hop album,” and he may have achieved just that. The record’s variety of instruments spans many eras and genres, and this is what separates it from the majority of local music released in 2015.
Skim Milk offers a different, unified, and eclectic combination of sounds with this new, self-titled release. A diverse sound mix, combined with the overall feel of a classical genre provides the perfect night-in soundtrack. This is a great record to settle down to with a good book and a fresh pint. If you are looking for something different to listen to, definitely check out Skim Milk’s latest.