Sampha has never been interested in the recommended route. First popping up on most radars in 2011 via collaborations with SBTRKT (also serving as his live support) and Jessie Ware, and truly broke through in 2013 as the latest Drake’s muses on Nothing Was the Same. All this was eras ago in the merciless pace of the music audience's interest, yet he only saw fit to drop an understated, but promising, EP in the form of Dual. Yet – tellingly – the world's interest didn't waver, there was a palpable feeling: someone special had been found, and it would be worth the wait. As he seemed to return from the wilderness in 2016 with appearances on records by Kanye, Frank Ocean and Solange, hope soared. Putting it mildly, we were all wondering would that damn album finally materialize?

Finally, we have Process. Facing the pressure of collective expectations, genuinely buckling from 6 years of anticipation, it manages to both deliver on, and gracefully dodge, them all. Scarcely heard are the easily digestible, floating choruses with which Sampha has graced records such as Drake’s ‘Too Much’. In their place is a challenging, demanding opus revolving around sorrow and anxiety.

Right from confrontational, disoriented opener ‘Plastic 100°C’, our hero sets the longing, at times hopeless pace. The album refuses to settle on one obsession, often dealing with lovers lost or scorned, drifting into politics and back into the hyper-personal. Raging in next, almost abruptly so after the relative placidity of ‘Plastic’, is the seething ‘Blood on Me’. Serving as the album's lead single, it presents both a solvent for the times and a less than sympathetic window to its bearer. Even addressing the state of things beyond him, Sampha refuses to allow himself grace, essentially serving as the villain of the piece.

If he allows himself any respite, it's on ‘(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano’, which meanders in nostalgia while being the fullest glimpse into the man behind the music. Nonetheless, as one piece of the tapestry that is Process, it still bears ill omen; for a work of its title, very little actual processing occurs here. There's mourning, self pity, and self-flagellation - but Sampha offers little hope of moving past it all here. Therein lies the album's power: a moment of wallowing preserved on wax.

There's plenty of bluster, whether aimed at himself (brutally so, as on ‘Timmy's Prayer’), metaphorical car crashes on ‘Reverse Faults’, or at others, as he dryly snipes, “I see you / Manipulate your lover” on ‘Under’. This is not an album for a breakthrough, nor is it a bastion in the storm. It's something grander. When you're in the peak of mental cyclone – who truly wants a helping hand? No matter whether it’s well-meaning, gentle prod, or some grand, patronizing “here is the way to get over.” Sampha had no interest in saving us all. What he did give us is the soundtrack for the breakdown. When the darkness comes, and you'd prefer to just be in it, rather than pushed into some cloying, artificial light, Process is there. Just remember: you can always come home.