Justin Martin Ghettos & Gardens Review

Album. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

Fun, adventurous party tunes delivered with a carefree attitude.

Ele Beattie 2012

"We're gonna hit the spot, we're gonna drop the jams and every booty gonna drop like dayyymun!" The dual high-pitched and gruffly distorted vocals that announce the arrival of Justin Martin's debut album also offer a mission statement: a declaration to deliver straight-up booty clap party music.

A long-standing member of Claude VonStroke's San Francisco-based dirtybird Records, Martin and his fellow birds have always offered a bit of light-hearted relief amid the austerity of so much dance music. And with 2012 being the year that the label celebrates a decade of existence, it seems only fitting that Martin releases a debut that defines their sense of fun. 

Combining delicately crafted melodies with tenacious basslines, Martin coins his trademark sound. Just like the regular dirtybird BBQs where dirty beats are brought to the open air of San Francisco's beautiful Golden Gate Park - and as the album title suggests - this music is where the pretty meets the gritty, making it suitable both for headphones and dancefloors alike.

Hood Rich, Ruff Stuff and Lezgo VIP all stand strong with sonically submerged foundations, yet within them there's the most mellifluous of breakdowns. On the softer tracks like Molokini, The Gurner and the utterly beautiful Don't Go, the subtlest of bass suggests a southern region swing.

Often citing Goldie as a massive influence, Martin begged him for permission to respectfully rework the classic Kemistry, highlighting his ability to share the boss of Metalheadz's style of rugged soulfulness. 

This album is Justin Martin at home, doing what he does best – his carefree attitude skips through the different styles and beats here with a sense of fun and adventure.

Making music that's as visceral as it can be breathing, he lives up to the ethos of the skit on Night Calling: “What we do is not a job, it sounds so silly, but what we do is a calling, my dear… We make people happy.”

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