Martyn - Ghost People

You owe it to yourself to listen to this.

Martyn’s debut album ‘Great Lengths’ was lauded by critics on its release: despite its inability to break out of the electronic-based underground, its fusion of styles such as techno, minimal house, 2-step and dubstep into something truly unique was praised by those who heard it. Martyn had created a sound that was identifiably his: complexly layered, intricate and melancholic it was a stunning piece of work. So when the press release for his second record ‘Ghost People’ essentially says “Great Lengths was too personal and sorrowful”, it’s difficult to know exactly what you’ll hear – so important was that morose texture to the music.

Luckily, Ghost People is ace. Chuffin’ ace. Ruddy ace. And prefixes of that nature. It’s still identifiably Martyn: that incredibly sophisticated, dense quality hasn’t been sacrificed (though slightly scaled down admittedly). But for all intents and purposes this is his ‘clubbing’ record, akin in tonality to his FabricLive mix. Gentle opener ‘Love And Machines’ features Hyperdub’s SpaceApe but is almost a trick track, so that ‘Viper’s intro completely blindsides you. The distorted bass underpinning the whole of Viper is in thrall to Nine Inch Nails/Skinny Puppy as much as it is to dubstep yet if it’s played at FWD or Metropolis, the crowd will guaranteed go apeshit. It’s a beast.

Elsewhere, the tempo is quickened on tracks such as ‘Masks’ - the bassline here taking a backseat to the synths and 2-step esque drumbeats. There is a lot of snare on this record. Vipers punch to the temple grabs your attention before Masks, Distortions, Popgun et al return to the Martyn blueprint. The reference points in Ghost People are more subtle than you’ve come to expect from an electronic record in the past couple of years – it’s a difficult record to pigeonhole, though if forced, techno would be the most prominent influence here. Which is why it completely makes sense when you learn Ghost People is being released by Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label. His is a similar aesthetic – a wide range of influences skewed, distorted and played with until there’s no way it could be anyone else responsible for it. They’re a perfect match for each other.

The real showstopper here though is album closer ‘We Are You In The Future’. A nine minute long track that relies on the same looped riff, you need to make sure it’s a killer one. It is. The word ‘epic’ can be used too often, especially when it comes to electronic music but the grandiose nature of ‘We Are You In The Future’ means it can’t be called anything else. Highly emotive, the song builds through the duel keyboards employed dancing around the techno-based percussion into what you assume will be its climax at the 4 minute mark – then all of a sudden, it breaks down into a Baby D esque ‘old skool’ garage/2-step beat. Sudden shift of direction – always interesting, though you mourn what you (at the time) think would have been a perfect close to the album. Martyn then brings the original riff back with a threatening background synth, building the track up to an even greater conclusion. It’s immense. Up there with 65daysofstatics ‘Tiger Girl’ for the grandest album closer this writer has heard.

In ‘Ghost People’, Martyn has created not only one of the electronic records of the year but one of the records of the year full stop. Far more accessible than ‘Great Lengths’ yet still complex and original enough to appeal to his initial fans, it’s a record that appeals from the first listen yet grows in stature with repeated ones. If you have any interest in electronic music beyond LMFAO and Yolande Be Cool, you owe it to yourself to listen to this.

Tags: Reviews, Album Reviews

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