“Plastic, hollow shells that focus only on the in-the-now grooves or keeping in line with trends.” This is how Martyn would describe some of today’s DJs. He isn’t necessarily finger-pointing particular individuals, the Internet can take care of that — just look at the polemic Skrillex. But his general view is that DJ superstar culture coupled with rock star marketing has created a host of vacuous producers for whom he has rubbed shoulders with during his own travels. For Martyn, they lack in any culture or history of the foundations in the music they promote and create, and easily jump on the nearest development with a brash ignorance. On Ghost People the Dutch producer would like to invoke not only nostalgic memories, but the rapport of Paradise Garage DJs and hedonistic club nights of the past.
It’s not the first time the once drum and bass DJ has taken a side look at the social and cultural aspects of his work. Great Lengths although not explicit in its delivery, had a very sombre and melancholic feeling. This release “has definitely a lot more drive, from being on the road, from being unhappy with a situation perhaps.” Martyn certainly seems to have an acute perception of the “scene” and the ebbs and flows of DJ life, and as one critic has commented on the landmark Fabric 50 mix: despite being a “temporary moment”, it nonetheless could not “taste fresher, [...] unifying house, techno, dubstep and UK funky to such a glorious extent; the first to portend the possibilities for coexistence between disparate scenes and sounds.”
Ghost People essentially transcends “House music’s nomadic memory”, a deep influence that remains throughout a multitude of artists in recent years, springing up in the futuristic and dystopian techno of Gatekeeper, or to take a huge step back, an album complete of House music’s earliest influences in the shape of 2562′s Fever LP. Every sound on the latter had to originate from a 70s or 80s disco record.
This album doesn’t put such a self-imposed limit onto itself, but just as 2562 is keen to delve amongst the building blocks of house, Martyn is equally willing to exlpore the melodies and emotions; the fizzing 808s and the cold synth stabs, passing through Detroit and Chicago on ‘Masks’ and ‘Horror Vacui’. It is heavy on the 4/4 beats and somewhat more aggressive than Great Lengths. “It’s similar to how Erosie’s album artwork is intense, an overload of thoughts, instead of an easily digestible image” comments Martyn, who insisted on the elaborate installation piece for the secret album release launch in east London late last month.
Notably, this reaffirms Martyn’s break with the confounds of two-step, and as his mind wanders through the worldwide scene once more, just where will he go next.