Could serve as a retrospective of instrumental hip hop over the past ten years.
Lucy Davies 2009-06-08
With 18 tracks Ghost has created an epic which could serve well as a retrospective of instrumental hip hop over the past ten years. With echoes of DJ Shadow, Massive Attack and even Lemon Jelly, cinematic and spacious Ghost looks over his shoulder back at trip hop and break beat, aided by UK rappers Jehst, Dubbeldge and Verb T.
Expansive and dark, Freedom of Thought tells a tale of cities, opening with an RP vocal sample discussing the prevalence of thought criminals. The ominous mood continues with Return Journey: Halloween style piano, synth strings and choir, plus heavy beats with plenty of ride, opening out into expressive distorted guitar solo.
Then we're teleported to Wigan Casino for It's All Love, a heavy, off-beat Northern Soul-esque track with Rhodes organ and sped-up vocal, unusual in its humour and levity. Elevate is a relentless, slightly brutal view of London from Jehst with a push-pull rhythm flowing through its underlying piano riff. There's ironic joy in tracks like Feel Pain and Daze breaks up the break beat that pervades the album with a clunky off-beat rhythm and vocoder.
In standout track Frozen in Time Verb T paints a bleak and disturbing picture of epilepsy, psychotherapy and betrayal, its vividness offset by a calm backdrop with jazz guitar.
Some tracks are arguably painting by numbers, such as From The Beginning, a gradual building and falling away, perfectly pleasant but with little depth or memorability. See You Crying is another slightly weaker track, the vocals barely audible, and extremely reminiscent of Zero 7's This World.
There is nothing particularly ground breaking for the genre, but here Ghost has managed to create a soundscape which is comforting, well-crafted and with sufficient depth and contrast to keep the listener absorbed for some time.