Sampha’s recently released “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano” was an arresting precursor to his debut album, Process, which debuts on February 3. The artists’ collaborations (with Solange on “Don’t Touch My Hair” and Drake on “Too Much”) and previous solo work (like his 2013 EP Dual, with the heavenly melancholy of “Can’t Get Close,” and his slinking regret track “Timmy’s Prayer” — co-written by Kanye) have all provoked a good deal of excitement for his debut LP, and this newest track was a sort of knock-you-to-the-floor beautiful. “Like the Piano” now has a video that could literally knock you to the floor, if you’re new to the disorientation of virtual reality.
A just-released 360-degree video, directed by Jamie James Medina and starring model/Gurls Talk founder Adwoa Aboah, is shot from the point of view of Sampha as he plays the piano, with Aboah hovering and watching serenely from the other end of it, all the while slowly disintegrating. A second, non-VR version of the video was also released, with the perspective jumping around the room as, similarly, Sampha sings and plays the piano and Aboah watches on, disappearing.
In an Instagram post following the release of the videos, Aboah wrote of her own personal attachment to the track and Sampha’s music:
I came across Sampha’s music years ago on a 1st date with my ex-boyfriend to go watch him play, and i completely fell in love…The day we filmed this video I felt as if I was disappearing, disintegrating with the pain of my broken heart. Clutching on to memories, completely unable to let go of the person I had shared all those years with since that first gig.
Per High Snobiety, the intimate song was written about the piano on which the album itself was written — a piano that’d been in Sampha’s mother’s house since he was three (the lyrics corroborate: “No one knows me like the piano in my mother’s home/You would show me I have something, some people call a soul/And you drop-topped the sky, oh you arrived when I was three years old”). The ballad comes a year after the artist’s mother’s death from cancer; Sampha dedicated the song to her on its release.
Watch the non-VR version:
And here’s the VR version: