Saturday, 4 February 2012
Review: Martyn - Ghost People
Dutch producer Martyn has been around for a while, once upon a time producing drum 'n bass, but in the last couple of years he's built up a lot of trendy momentum, notably being given the gig to mix Fabric's prestigious 50th compilation in 2010. On new album Ghost People he's made the move to the trendiest of uber-trendy American bleepy-weirdness labels - FlyLo's excellent Brainfeeder imprint (Ooh - listen to me casually throwing around music journo terms like "imprint". I mean "record label"). Martyn's vaguely experimental post-dubstep skippety beats fit surprisingly well into the Brainfeeder sound, which is probably best defined as "glitch hop" - the result of a bunch of West Coast kids raised on Wu Tang records who've discovered psychedelics and Warp Records and promptly ran riot with their samplers and synths.
This album's been pretty well received, and pretty popular too - I even heard a track from it crop up on a Friday night in some self-styled classy bar in the city, which is not the kind of place you expect to hear bleepy electronic music. Personally, I think this is a very solid album with a few great moments, mostly book-ending the unspectacular mid-section. Little surprise, given the latent glowstick-love lurking just behind my eyes, my favourite tracks are the ones drenched in melodic trancey arpeggios. Notable candidates for Track Of The Album: the Spaceape-aided opener Love And Machines, which is really way too good to be a little intro thing, and the closing wig-out of We Are You In The Future. The trouble is that I've literally just finished listening to this album, and I really can't remember much about any of the tracks between those two. There's a vague impression of post-dubstep/future garage wonky beats and bleepy-bloopy videogame synths, the kind of shit which is ten-a-penny these days, as well as the odd funkless house kick he seemed to love using on his Fabric mix, but solid concepts of tracks and ideas have mostly departed. I can remember the vocal on Distortions, and a vague impression that the track felt woozy, but that's really about it.
I imagine a lot of Martyn fans will be frothing at the mouth right now, because they know this record inside out and can't believe I don't remember all those little details they love so much. Sorry guys. I'm not that much of a Martyn fan - his Fabric compilation didn't do much for me. I don't really connect with the musical traits he puts emphasis on, or something. It's probably telling that the tracks I do like and do remember are the ones that come over to my tastes more. I think if Martyn had integrated those arpeggios and clear hooky melodies into the body of the album a little more, I'd have loved it. Instead I'm left clawing for memories of an album that by-and-large passed by as background music. If a moment on a record really pushes your buttons, you remember that little spark. Most of this music didn't spark with me, so no matter how artistically accomplished it may be, it didn't impress itself upon me. I'll give it a 7/10 because I think I am being unfair here, and I can imagine this is one that improves with multiple listens, but right now I can't really say I enjoyed a record that I've mostly forgotten within 15 minutes.
Stupid Arbitrary Rating: 7/10