Ghost People is the second full-length from Dutch expat and current D.C. resident Martyn, a veteran DJ signed to Flying Lotus’s ever-expanding Brainfeeder imprint. Just like labelmates Samiyam and the Gaslamp Killer, Martyn demonstrates the porosity of the current Internet-enfranchised dance scene — the dubstep box he’s generally placed in is a woefully limited way to define his cosmopolitan voice.
The foundation of Martyn’s production is actually the well-heeled melodic tech-house of Booka Shade and Isolée, warm synth tones and nimble percussion intertwined in an elegant matrix. The title track picks out a minimal earworm reminiscent of Ricardo Villalobos, teasing the dancefloor with ebbing and flowing levels of intensity. But Martyn skirts any potential blankness by nodding at some of the most irreverent rhythmic modes of the last few years: two-step’s restless gloss, U.K. funky’s guarana perkiness and dubstep’s destabilised bass. “Popgun,” for instance, boasts a brooding melody assembled from bass judders and lurches, while “Twice As” offsets slick house production with the urban melancholy explored by King Midas Sound, Burial and Kode 9.
Like Joy Orbison, Ben UFO and many other of his contemporaries, Martyn embraces the satisfying rigidity of house and then loosens it with low-end. The result is a record full of head-rush melodies and introspective rhythms that seamlessly melds a decade’s worth of dance music culture into a vibrant whole.