From the director of Beyonce’s Lemonade comes another completely beautiful visual album.
This afternoon, without fanfare, pomp or circumstance, (as is his way) Sampha Sisay continued his effortless album campaign with the release of a visual album, directed by Kahlil Joseph. Mostly shot in Freetown, Sierra Leone, the sweeping cinematic 40 minute film delicately explores the themes of love and loss that vibrate throughout Process, a soul-searching and starry album that poetically describes coping with death, realising emotional maturity and finding comfort in sorrow.
Process' painted visuals are sumptuous, subtle and sharp, moving, as Sampha's music does, between piercing truths and emotional haze. Joseph's poignant film captures the African capital's spiritual softness, and the abundant, unceasing human energy that pulses through Freetown, burrowing the roots of Sampha's story deeper than ever before. There are moments in London too, whether in the understated grandeur of Morden tube station, or a graffitied park, or the indescribable comfort of the living room in your childhood home.
When Sampha plays, he plays for the stars, and the expansive album production is matched in the visuals. The most heart-wrenching moment comes towards the end of the film, with a simple performance of (No One Knows Me) Like the Piano to a hushed, seated crowd of Sierra Leonean locals, introduced off-screen as "the last song he ever played for his mother", having sung it at her funeral. The song summarises the mood of the album; nostalgic and despairing, regretful but not sorry, and when the track arrives in the film, it's as if every note is played with the weight of the world, and every word is the only thing on Earth that matters -- strike that, the cosmos.
Kahlil Joseph has weaved the knotted emotions of Sampha's Process into a thick tapestry of ethereal sounds, docile camerawork and a heart-wrenching narrative. Immerse yourself and expect the hairs on the back of your neck to stand to attention throughout.
Text Tom Ivin