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Martyn - The Air Between Words

"The Air Between Words"

Release date: 16 June 2014
Martyn The Air Between Words
02 July 2014, 11:30 Written by Rory Foster
If you want to know why Martyn resists musical classification, the opening hook of “Drones” is a good place to start. A sound not entirely unlike a keyboard falling down the stairs, it takes a few listens for the madness to resemble some sort of method – at which point another track will probably have convinced you that, when it comes to club tracks, Martyn is not to be fucked with. The Air Between Words may sometimes seem a little off-kilter, but it also packs a punch harder than a Mantis Shrimp. And the Mantis Shrimp’s punch is hard.

Martyn is a dutch producer and DJ famed for his electronic elasticity. Since 2009’s Great Lengths, through to 2011’s Brainfeeder-released Ghost People and now The Air Between Words, Martyn has flirted with dubstep, garage, house, techno, and could not be said to have settled. Despite this, The Air Between Words is arguably his least flirtatious to date, dominated by a more accessible dance floor sound. A trip through Martyn’s back catalogue will find you, with only a few exceptions, dancing. The progression is that The Air Between Words will find you dancing in the most uniform manner.

Despite the presence of club tracks, there’s also a turnout for non-dance larger than on Ghost People. The soothing opener of “Forgiveness Step 1” only just falls short of 3 minutes and is by most accounts a track in its own right, whilst those resting moments in Ghost People were just that - moments, for the listener to catch breath, have a drink and then dive back in to the party. Inga Copeland (the singing half of Hype Williams) guests on the greatest leap away from Martyn’s comfort zone, on “Love of Pleasure”. With a bassline reminiscent of Jamie XX’s “Lion” remix, respect has to be given to Martyn for producing a vocally dominated pop track that fits so cleanly within the musical palette of an otherwise entirely instrumental album.

But the name of the game is still, for the majority of the record, to get you moving. “Glassbeatgames” finds Martyn more accessible than ever, helped on its way by both an ethereal female vocal sample and the great moulder of the club and the bedroom, Four Tet. From thereon out, things get heavier. “Empty Mind” darkens the record, and is matched by “Two leads and Computer”, “Forgiveness Step 2” and “Like That”, in its four to the floor tenacity.

But despite these three tracks playing back to back, The Air Between Words lacks the sort of progression we’ve come to expect from other electronic dancefloor crossovers such as Jon Hopkins and James Holden. The glue holding Martyn’s third LP together is his immaculately-produced tone rather than succinct emotional movement through the album. The individual tracks don’t suffer from it, but it makes sitting down and listening all the way through The Air Between Words a less attractive prospect than doing the same for Immunity. That being said, there’s plenty to take away from Martyn’s third LP. At the very least, you may have learnt something about the Mantis Shrimp.

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