Part Gil-Scott Heron, part Portishead and part The Streets, Ghostpoet’s second full-length album is an entrancing exploration of what genre-less electronic music can achieve. Whether it’s the frenetic, juke-inspired clicks on ‘MSI Musmid’, the sombre piano and boom-bap bass in ‘12 Deaf’ or the lively indie rock on ‘Plastic Bag Brain’, the ambition and variety of this album’s production is its most marked improvement on Ghostpoet’s debut, Peanut Butter Blues And Melancholy Jam.
The album’s concluding track, ‘Comatose’, encapsulates the styles and tones of what is presented in the preceding 50 minutes: a dreamscape that morphs into an agitated drum machine concoction and bursts out of its chrysalis with a cello-led flourish. Ejimiwe’s inclusion of several orchestral elements (including horns on ‘Cold Win’ and a string arrangement on ‘Meltdown’) are definite highlights, displaying a newfound mastery of how to build and release tension within each track.
Neither do Ghostpoet’s lyrics disappoint; the brooding utterances conjure up images of solitary walks through apathetic urban back-alleys at night. Unlike many of his spoken-word contemporaries, Ghostpoet’s musings never drift towards the moralising or rhetorical end of the spectrum. The artistry at work here is too intricate and articulate to contain another rant about ‘real hip-hop’. However, the album could have benefited from a wider variety in vocal delivery to match the instrumental breadth. Calling Obaro Ejimiwe a rapper would be inaccurate, but a greater interest in things like double-time flow, internal rhymes or even melody would be a boon to what can, at times, become a slightly dreary spoken performance. Nevertheless, this quibble does not seriously endanger what is ultimately a resounding and daring success.