C. Samms 

Self-released • 2024

Bouquet is a vibrant collection that comes together like a carefully arranged assortment of C. Samms’s influences.

Let’s pause originality snobbery for a second to consider how being derivative or pastiche in music is a positive quality. It’s a celebration, not a sin. Many great artists have powerful influences from predecessors; their secret sauce of sounds and styles is borrowed from the legends before them. Channelling a bit of Bowie or a splash of Mitchell and Young isn’t theft but a tasty homage to the past. It’s akin to cooking in that, with any new creation, you don’t invent new ingredients; you whip up something fresh and delicious with what you’ve got. When artists channel influences from the past, they’re participating in a larger conversation within the music world, adding their voice to an ongoing dialogue. In doing so, we recognize that music is a continuous, evolving art form enriched by its history.

I’m making this argument preemptively before diving into Winnipeg-based artist C. Samms’s Bouquet, lest someone dismissively point out the album’s deep influences. “Sonically,” Samms says, “[Bouquet is] a love letter to early albums from New Order, Depeche Mode, The Cure, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Kraftwerk, Ruth and Absolute Body Control,” and the album unabashedly revels in the hybridity that mixing all those artists’ DNA delivers. Songs like the title track and “Parallel Spell” slap—and smack—thanks to Peter Hookian-melodic bass lines, while “Infomation,” “Time Travels,” and “Holiday” percolate elements of Speak & Spell and Trans-Europe Express in a way that feels refreshed and interesting instead of tired and worn out.

Bouquet is a brilliant, sparkling, and radiant moment that situates C. Samms in a long tradition of electronic musicians intent on instilling humanity, urgency, and a beating heart into the cold, staid world of electronic music. Much like Devours, C. Samms is more interested in human-machine interaction that puts a person in control behind the electronic pulses instead of technology dictating the art. His Bandcamp bio says he is “simply a person that enjoys the simple pleasures of synthesizers,” and that enjoyment comes through in spades on Bouquet, a vibrant, eclectic collection of songs that come together like a carefully arranged assortment of C. Samms’s influences.

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