Release Date: Oct 10, 2011
Record label: Brainfeeder
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
Ghost People, released on Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder, is relatively concise and less moody compared to Martyn’s previous full-length, 2009’s Great Lengths. The whole sternly focused thing is laced with enough emphasis on sound design to function as an immersive headphone listen, while at least two-thirds of it can drain one’s energy on a dancefloor. “Distortions” and "Popgun,” both of which use shunting garage rhythms as a foundation, are among the producer’s most aggressive and physical output.
If you heard last year's "Left Hander," you'd know that Martyn's sound dipped into dirtier territory more influenced by house than anything else. While many producers have capitalized on the kind of garage/techno/dubstep melange he stewed up with debut album Great Lengths, on Ghost People Martyn has fully moved into this sound, a skewed breakbeat house that forgoes the elegance his earlier material in favour of tough dancefloor material. Here, the soundstage is scaled back from a warehouse to a toolshed, the jagged synths and sandpaper melodies feeling even rawer than before.
If the Dutch producer’s last album ‘[b]Great Lengths[/b]’ was an exercise in contemplative, spacious dubstep, then ‘[b]Ghost People[/b]’ is instinctual; muscles tensed in observance of the cerebellum’s basest of commands. “Human beings move closer to machines” intones [a]Kode9[/a]’s MC Spaceape on ‘[b]Love And Machines[/b]’ and, boy, does the 4/4 body-as-machine dogma pulse through the steely Detroit techno-flavoured ‘[b]Viper[/b]’ and the 4am hydraulic punch of ‘[b]Horror Vacui[/b]’. Of course, this being Brainfeeder, these impulses are processed through a distinctly 2011 filter (see the futurist 2-step of ‘[b]Twice As[/b]’), ensuring the blood flows all the way to the head, among other places.
Martyn's sound isn't going to be plugged into a YouTube video with a "lol dubstep" punchline. KoRn aren't going to ask him for a remix. And he doesn't hang too close to either of the distant poles that James Blake placed between his own indie-friendly ambience and the aggro, wobble-cannon zeitgeist of bass music's more populist and/or frattier impulses.
Review Summary: Something new, something old and something borrowed for Martyn's highly anticpated follow up, yet this time around he's less forward thinking and more just straight forwardIt’s interesting to now only be able to gauge just how pivotal and influential Martyn’s Great Lengths lp actually was, some two and a bit years after it emerged coated in a delicate house sheen, less rudimentary yet somehow more practical with its ambitions. It was the dubstep album that somehow avoided being a part of the genre altogether, chiefly because of its employment of more flagrant upbeat tempos and techno insinuations. This apparent precursor to the whole UK Funky movement (imagine what garage house would sound like and you’re on the right path) also spoke another language entirely because of Martyn’s distance from the two main worlds of the genre: neither another faceless entity embroiled within the hubbub of London atmosphere, or partaking in the jockstrap dubstep of the American frat scene.
The Dutch producer continues to predict the dance trends of the future. Matthew Bennett 2011 Ah, the musical pigeonhole. A roost everyone loves to hate, but we’d struggle without it. Dutch producer Martyn was raised on drum‘n’bass but truly made his name as one of the more refined practitioners on the dubstep scene.