Martyn – ‘The Air Between Words’ (Ninja Tune)

Seen to be one of the major players in the evolution of Dubstep movement around the turn of the new millennium’s first decade, Dutch born Martijn Deijkers has formed a body of work that has continually questioned notions of genre. In 2009, ‘Great Lengths’ which was released on 3024 (his own record label) showed the first signs of promise for the producer on the front row of the Dubstep scene. Since then, he shifted labels to Brainfeeder for the delivery of ‘Ghost People’ which saw the producer focusing heavily on House and doing so proved himself once more to not only be a formidable force on the dancefloor but an innovator, someone who, even still in their early days was blending different musical styles to such success. ‘The Air Between Words’ (released through Ninja Tune) is the third link in the chain and pushes forward the artist’s individuality into a league of it’s own.

Opener, ‘Forgiveness Step 1’ is delicate. Soft synths, the distant sound of a child murmuring and the smooth whisperings of a woman’s voice singing the words “Tonight, Tonight”, slip in and out of actuality for the introductory three minutes until we are greeted with ‘Glassbeadgames’ and with it, the ever so familiar, sporadic, almost out of time snare beats of a Four Tet work. Kieran Hebden has an uncanny ability to form a certain relationship musically with whomever he interacts and that reputation is only reinforced by his role here. An impression of total synergy between both producers is transferred to the listener; Hebden speaking through the raw percussions and the Dutchman offering up the more synthetic appeal.

As the record progresses, it becomes clear that any expectations of the release pre-listening are to be flushed away as more surprises arrive with ‘Love of Pleasure’, possibly the creator’s most irregular material. Taking a turn into the realms of the sombre, a low rumbling tone introduces the track before stepping into a tasty “boom boom clap” which treads the way for the lingering ghost of former Hype Williams member, Inga Copeland. Her echoes drift in and out of the rhythm with a tone of tenuous melancholy, subtle enough not to seem out of keeping with the format of the record, but tuneful enough to hold our interest and leave us wanting more. Then from the ashes of ‘Love of Pleasure’, track six entitled ‘Two Leads and a Computer’ is born. From here on out the album follows a darker route by pretty much dismissing of any elements of House; something which was vastly prominent on his previous LP. The track is mechanical, bass driven and holds a dark repetitive undertone which builds over six and a half minutes in a Legowelt-esque fashion, the whole time making full use of the equaliser to bend and warp the sound-forming a number seasoned with Techno qualities.

In a similar vein, ‘Empty Mind’ shows Deijkers’ first heavy lean towards Techno and will probably be one of the first from the record to be heard spinning off the walls of Fabric within the months to come. A hard-hitting bass line intersected by a synth hi-hat plays beneath a UKG style loop. This reassures us that Martyn will never fail to get people moving. The one which will perhaps become every DJ’s favourite however comes right at the end. “Fashion Skater” is another heavy number, rich both in earth-shaking bass and breaks catered for the 4am dancefloor. We see the artist moving as far away as he can get from the previous record on this one, involving some of the most sinister, stomach-turning effects to be found in his oeuvre thus far.

At this point it is worth reminding oneself that Deijkers grew up listening to and entered the world as a DJ, playing Drum and Bass. ‘Forgiveness Step 2’ sees the artist take hold of this passion properly for the first time in years and drive out a track full of certain identifiable ‘Martyn’ characteristics but housed in a shell of Breakbeat and Jungle.

This casual involvement of Techno, Jungle and even hints of Garage is what is most refreshing about ‘The Air Between Words’. We get the feeling that we’re finally hearing the music he has always desired to make. With what is clearly a diverse palate, Martyn has reached a juncture in his career at which he can comfortably employ these inspirations and it is incredibly rewarding to behold. The LP certainly doesn’t follow a strict theme (or seem to have any such boundaries at all for that matter) and in fact, comes across as more of a collection of sketches, actively displaying a chapter in the producers current stage of work. This is somehow natural, more real. ‘The Air Between Words’ is not just another release, but an insight into the musical mind of ‘Martijn Deijkers, proving undeniable intelligence and a dynamic, forward-thinking approach to the club scene.

‘The Air Between Words’ is out next Monday 16th June on Ninja Tune. You can pre-order it here.

Will Marsh

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