These are not the sounds of an artist seeking anyone’s approval. Ghostpoet knows exactly how to dwell in a darkness flecked with light – everyone else needs to catch up.

Ghostpoet doesn’t seem to give two shits about comparisons and critical acclaim. The Brit’s 2011 debut Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam had everyone touting him as the next Roots Manuva, and even picked up a nomination for that year’s Mercury Prize.

On his sophomore Obaro Ejimiwe has ditched mentor Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings for Play It Again Sam (Dead Can Dance, Zulu Winter); he’s also eschewed self-producing to collaborate with Richard Formby (Wild Beasts, Archie Bronson Outfit). He’s forsaken the easy pop of early singles like ‘Liiines’ to go even darker and more downbeat.

The results are assured and impressive. Even when the sounds recall touchstones like Burial and Massive Attack – such as on opener ‘Cold Win’ – the unexpected arrives via muted psychotic horns that shatter the preceding pop of the track.

The repeated phrasing resonates on ‘Them Waters’ and ‘Dorsal Morsel’, sounding particularly lush through good speakers that frame the insistent rhythms buffering the raps. Guest vocalists pepper the album, with the addition of Gwylim Gold (Golden Silvers) on the latter track transforming it into a moody slow anthem for lovers.

British artist Lucy Rose contributes vocals on ‘Dial Tones’, bemoaning romance’s, “constant calamities, and overcooked stubborn ways.” She doesn’t exist to counter Ghostpoet’s protagonist, as both are defined by their uselessness and inability to move on as their voices meld to ask, “So if I try and call will you pick up? Or will our silly games never let up? I’m trying out some olive branch tactics.”

**** out of five stars


Some Say I So I Say Light is out now on PIAS.

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