Martyn Ghost People Review

Album. Released 2011.  

BBC Review

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. His Great Lengths album stood out in 2009 as a keystone recording tempering complex half-step rhythms with a preoccupation with house music.

Ghost People picks up where he’s never left off: making indefinable, chameleonic music that breathes in history as deeply as it dodges petty pigeonholes. Whilst the modern bass community bickers over whether dubstep as a progressive genre has now passed, Martyn’s never cared; he’s already skipped off ahead of the metaphorical memo that he wasn’t going to read anyway.

The Spaceape kicks off this latest journey with some cosmic android beat poetry heralding his analogue dreams, which fuse with Martyn’s robotic soul. This track, Love and Machines, drops straight into lead single Viper: a chunky, almost industrial techno number that sounds more like melancholic fridge freezers playing hopscotch than anything associated with dubstep.

The perky peaks on Ghost People often arrive via Martyn’s reconfiguring of the dance garage beat, very much on trend with 2012’s next wave of scene movements. Bauplan and Popgun are the best examples of this, and they’ll go down a treat in a modern climate in which tastemakers such as Jamie xx are advocating a similar direction.

However, to linger on just a couple of tracks would belie how many facets this album possesses. Horror Vacui is a track that stands massive in its intimidation levels, mutated deliberately for only the fullest of clubs. Distortions is indebted to Detroit producer Carl Craig’s deft touch with synthesised strings and plummeting breakbeats that made his 69 era such a reference point. Martyn takes the same complex keyboard architecture to the track We Are You in the Future, yet halfway through reveals tougher, more rave-y percussive lifeblood.

Ghost People will mean a lot of things to a lot of people. From his eulogy of Detroit strings and deep beats, to London’s ambiguous constant reinvention of bass culture, these are tracks that will hold their own in any city with DJs operating at the forefront of the shifting beat.

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