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Two years on from the release of his Mercury nominated debut, 'Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam', Ghostpoet releases his sophomore album 'Some Say I So I Say Light' through Play It Again Sam. 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 and 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. Two years on, having moved on from Brownswood to Play It Again Sam, 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.
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). 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. On 'Dial Tones' one will recognize the wonderfully guarded and delicate vocals of UK songstress Lucy Rose. '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 from the Invisible on guitar fuses Afro Beat guitar riffs and shuffling two-tone rhythms. You also have the legendary drumming talent of Charles Hayward from This Heat lending his talent on 'Sloth Trot'. The disarmingly honest '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. The lyrics that come through on 'Some Say I So I Say Light' 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 Ghostpoet in the tradition of modern British auteurs as interested in pushing the boundaries sonically as expressing cathartic feelings.
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