[Oct 25, 2013] Ghostpoet (The Button Factory) (1 Viewer)


chronic procrastinator
Staff member
Since 1999
Nov 14, 1999
Due to tour schedule changes GHOSTPOET’s show at THE BUTTON FACTORY has been moved from Saturday 19th October, to Friday 25th October. Tickets for the original show remain valid for the new date.

POD presents

Friday 25th October 2013
The Button Factory – Curved Street, Temple Bar – Dublin 2
Doors – 7:30pm
Tickets €16.30 (these prices include booking fee) available from Ticketmaster and usual outlets. www.ticketmaster.ie

Obaro Ejimiwe, aka Ghostpoet, laughs when he remembers how Gilles Peterson “took a risk on a random maverick” back in 2010 by signing him to the Radio 1 DJ’s Brownswood imprint. Within a year, that risk paid off: Ghostpoet’s debut album, Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam, marked him out as one of the most distinct, uncategorisable and forward-thinking voices to emerge in British music this decade, and it was rewarded with a surprise Mercury Prize nomination in 2011. It was a sudden rise for a man who for whom news of a record deal came in the same week that he was made redundant from his office job in insurance.

Two years on, having moved on from Brownswood to, Ghostpoet’s creativity has blossomed even more. On his second album, Some Say I So I Say Light, he pushes even further in all directions than on Peanut Butter Blues, mixing the abstract and the concrete with uncanny skill. Industrial beats, sonorous piano lines and hyper-detailed ornamentation provide a backdrop for an artist who sounds ever more like a man old before his time, whether intoning words so laconically it’s virtually spoken word or croaking out sung melodies. At times, Ghostpoet’s vocals seem to deliberately recede into the flickering shadows of the music, though this doesn’t lessen their gravitas in the slightest. The lyrics that come through are as rooted in everyday life as ever, though: from unopened mail to takeaway meals, Ghostpoet is never less than completely identifiable. It’s an album that positions him in the tradition of modern British auteurs as interested in pushing the boundaries sonically as expressing cathartic feelings, from Tricky to The Streets.

Ghostpoet attributes the album’s experimental bent to the change in his recording situation. Whereas Peanut Butter Blues was entirely self-produced on a computer in Ghostpoet’s bedroom, Some Say I So I Say Light is a studio-based work co-produced with the talented Richard Formby (Wild Beasts, Darkstar, Egyptian Hip-Hop). “He really opened my eyes to a different world,” says Ghostpoet. “Most of the album was made using analogue equipment, which was alien to me before. I knew I needed something more than sticking my music into a computer and using presets to take it to the next level. Analogue equipment enabled me to physically touch stuff and change it as I saw fit – I was able to get the ideas out of my head and into audio pieces much easier.”

The mood of Some Say I So I Say Light was also influenced by Ghostpoet’s personal circumstances. “I was in a bit of a dark place for a while,” he admits. “Everything I was making was moody and dark – lyrically as well. Usually in the past when I felt down I wouldn’t make music, because it wasn’t in the forefront of my mind. I’d get some ice cream and watch a DVD or something. But this time I just tried to see what would happen, see if it would spark some creativity.” Many of the album’s demos were initially put together on an old upright piano that inexplicably came with his Dalston flat – “it feels very claustrophobic at times, with all my possessions around me” – and the ghost of its presence remains on several of the finished tracks. Others, however, underwent significant alterations. “I’ve kind of dealt with that sad state of affairs now, I’m luckily much happier,” he smiles. “Some of the songs have remained in a darker realm, but I’ve forced change in others.”

One of the key upbeat cuts is the album opener, “Cold Win”, which Ghostpoet describes as “almost a flagpole or mast for the record”. Originally intended as a homage to old-school garage, it morphed into an electronic oddity that builds up gradually with cinematic swells of horns, although skipping, staccato beats remain as a hint to the track’s origins. It’s not the only song that shapeshifts almost imperceptibly, ending up somewhere completely different to where it started. “Dorsal Morsel”, which features Gwilym Gold on vocals, begins as a sparse, minimal meditation that develops into what Ghostpoet calls a “synth utopia” while lyrics about spending too much money on Amazon and Pringle packet metaphors keep it grounded in reality. The delicacy of “Comatose” winds up as glorious, string-led chamber music.

Elsewhere, “Plastic Bag Brain”, which features Tony Allen on drums and Dave Okumu on guitar, is almost pastoral, with its folky guitar riff and shuffling rhythm – though this is mixed in with hints of afrobeat and two-tone as well. Over sonorous piano, “Meltdown” tells the tale of one of those break-ups where both parties simply drift apart gradually. Electronic static, radio signals and beats that crunch like footsteps through snow form the basis for Ghostpoet’s ruminations on dim sum and noodles on “Msi Musmid”, while “12 Deaf” is an aqueous, abstract soundscape.

“If you stop to think, it may open floodgates that no key can ever lock; treadmilling, never stop,” he intones on “Them Waters” over a stately, insistent synth loop – a song made under unusual pressure. “I was at Mike Skinner’s house to work on something else,” laughs Ghostpoet. “He has a studio with every tool under the sun at the end of his garden and he was just like, I’m off out for a couple of hours, go ahead and make a tune. I was a bit scared! Like, I’ve got to make something. And so the beginnings of ‘Them Waters’ was born.”

Throughout, even when it plays second fiddle to the invention of the sounds, Ghostpoet’s lyrical voice is the compelling thread running through the album. “My lyrics are never about one specific thing, not even a particular subject matter,” he explains. “It’s all stream of consciousness that picks up different things at the same time. I want the listener to make up their own mind as to what the song’s about…I don’t feel the need to be specific because that’s not how my mind works all the time. But from the beginning I wanted to continue writing about the ups and downs of life: not just about me, but all sorts of people, known and unknown.”

The past year has also seen Ghostpoet gain a DJ gig on the NTS radio station that he describes as a “refreshing” opportunity to switch off from the day job. Through this – and his series of mixtapes, uploaded to Soundcloud – he revels in his love of sharing new discoveries. Scrolling through the music on his phone, it’s clear that Ghostpoet has a voracious and wide-ranging musical appetite: he praises everything from psychedelic rock band Gentle Giant to Beth Gibbons’ bleak folk album with Rustin Man, via John Coltrane, Serge Gainsbourg, Don Cherry, Caribou and Terry Callier. It’s telling that he gravitates towards one-of-a-kind auteurs who create their own musical worlds. As he puts it, “It works on a subconscious level rather than direct influences. It’s a reminder that I have to stick to my guns creatively.” On his second album, Ghostpoet has done just that
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