Some Say I So I Say Light
53:54 min • Play It Again Sam • May 6, 2013
Little Bastard reviews
When London and Coventry based artist Ghostpoet was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2011 for his brilliantly titled debut album Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam, I was sure he was going to win. Self-produced, mostly in his bedroom, his debut was poetry with a Tricky-esque stoned drawl set to beats both ambient and trance-like and it was one of the most exciting debut albums I’d heard in years. Unfortunately he was beaten by PJ Harvey who, as much as I love her, was already the proud owner of that gong.
This, the second album from Obaro Ejimiwe, is more of the same … but with slightly more bite.
Opener ‘Cold Win’ is the perfect way for us to begin our journey. All syncopated beats and blips, covered in haunting synths and with his now trademark half-sung half-spoken delivery, as much old school garage as it is ’90s trip hop, before collapsing into the almost avant garde jazz that was common place in much of the drum’n’bass of the ’90s. However, despite all these retro influences being crammed into one song, it sounds surprisingly fresh, and not remotely dated.
An immediate favourite is ‘Them Waters’, which has me dancing in my seat despite its mid-tempo banger feel. Its city life lyrics, about public transport, supermarkets and bills, is how I feel about my life here in London, and for that I adore it. ‘Dial Tones’ is as mellow and sultry as can be, the gorgeous female vocal dripping with regret and longing, its late night “I fucked up” lyric of,
So if i try and call will you pick up…
I’m trying out some Olive branch tactics –
is something I’m more than familiar with, and the low lit mood of Ghostpoet’s music draws me right into his head space. ‘Plastic Bag Brain’ (brilliant title, by the way) hits me with its picky guitar loop and rock drum, and ‘Thymethymethyme’ stumbles along with an almost drunken ramble. Current single ‘Meltdown’, featuring the stunning alternative folk beauty Lucy Rose, is an instant classic, telling the story of a relationship at the point of its meltdown. The vulnerable nature of Lucy’s voice perfectly marries with Obara’s drawl and the almost blurred nature of the music. As the music breaks down and strings wrap around raw vocals, the broken couple sing,
I don’t mean to disappoint and tear apart,
But baby its my heart,
This time I’ve got to follow it –
oh boy, have I been there, and this beautiful moment gives the song all the naked emotion it needs.
Thematically, the whole album feels very one level, and because of this it like a concept album, about the troubles of modern life and modern love in London. With lyrics about dim sum and noodles on ‘Msi Musmid’ (and did he really just say “I like Percy Pigs” in Dorsal Morsel?!) there’s none of the pretension that normally saturates modern trip hop, but there is the same sense of sadness that throttles you when listening to James Blake and Thom Yorke, without the sympathy vote evoked by either artist. At times, feeling like a kid in a sonic sweet shop, the tracks build and fall with a much more obvious production statement being made this time. You can hear the influence of the studio on this album, making it a wholly more polished affair, but at no point does that detract from the introspective nature of Obaro’s music. Some Say I So I Say Light is the very definition of what it is to be modern. There are heavy influences from everything that’s gone before it, notably Tricky, Massive Attack and Saul Williams, but its executed with such style and self-assurance that Ghostpoet has managed to create his own beast … which is almost so genre-less that it would be a nightmare for many a music critic.
I don’t care about labels, which is a good job, because calling this album (and its predecessor) Trip Hop doesn’t do it justice. Exquisitely produced, the beats envelope you and his words, and the whole album moves as one … from beat to flawless beat. By final track ‘Comatose’, that’s almost how I feel, but in the best way possible. As iconic an album as Original Pirate Material by The Streets was ten years ago (with its mix of garage, trip hop and unusually every day rap means that this is the album Some Say I So I Say Light reminds me of the most) Ghostpoet really should be a bigger noise. This is the perfect late night album, with a whisky on the rocks, killed lights and a head full of thoughts, and that is exactly how I suggest you enjoy this gorgeous piece of trip-hopera. Same again next time please, Obaro!