Martyn, Great Lengths


Picture courtesy of the Daily Mail

[3024]


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After notching up a slew of killer cuts last year and an equally impressive array of remixes, ears have been pricked in anticipation of Martyn’s full length debut. Originally a drum and bass producer, it seems the Dutchman (real name Martijn Deykers) has all but defected to dubstep, rapidly cultivating himself a sterling reputation over the last year and a half for his impeccably turned out sound. Alongside Romanian peer TRG, Martyn’s productions map some of the most easily assailable crossover points between the dubstep and techno divide. Typically more clubby than the likes of Shackleton and Pangaea, yet no where near the raved up wonk of pundits like Skream, Benga et al., Martyn has managed to forge himself a neat little niche in the dubstep realm.

Great Lengths comes out on Martyn’s own 3024 records, a label so far only to release a small number of tracks by himself and 2562, and so named for the area code of Martyn’s hometown. The opening salvo of “The Only Choice” greets us with a volley of area code shout-outs, much in the same way you might expect from a hip-hop record. After warming up the drum skins with this intro we’re struck by “krdl-t-grv,” a track embodying all the elements Martyn puts together so well: tough, embossed percussion, techno laced pads and a killer dubwise bass line.

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However we are shown multiple sides to Martyn over the course of the album, including a sideline into 4/4 beats which he explores over three different tracks. “Seventy Four” starts off with a very old school-sounding thumping house kick drum but develops into something more along the lines of an incredibly restrained Border Community outing. The low, slow sawing bass line never opens up like a James Holden or Nathan Fake track, sounding more like a mournful fog horn instead, while the rhythmic synths are always clipped rather than drawn out. “Elden St.” has brushes of deep house and with its soft blurry chords is a gorgeous early morning track, easily fitting into Martyn’s “music for a warm but rainy day” ethos, while the hidden track at the end of the disc fully engages the deep house sound with a Schatrax feel.

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Most of the dubstep tracks are imbued with an early breakbeat feel recalling the days of mask hysteria, usually a refined chord progression hinting at those raving days of yore. Others hold a pleasant wistfulness as on “Little Things,” one of the album’s deeper cuts, or on the only full vocal “These Words” featuring the breathless tones of dBridge. Towards the end of the album a garage influence shines through with the terse percussive step of “Hear Me” working a chiming synth sound that melds beautifully with the organ-like bass and a yearning snatch of vocal.

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It would have been easy to litter the album with previous singles, but Martyn keeps it down to two of his most well known: “Vancouver” and “Natural Selection,” both absolutely imperative sides whose absence would have left the album conspicuously incomplete. Great Lengths at its end is undoubtedly an intense labor of love and one planned meticulously. Martyn shows a highly impressive set of skills from forging beatless atmospheres to ethnic-tinged club rumblers and smooth, faultless half time steppers. The engaging artwork is done by 3024 co-head honcho Erosie, completing a stunning package from beginning to end. Unquestionably this is and will remain one of the year’s best.

hutlock  on April 20, 2009 at 8:57 AM

Great review, great album.

barry  on April 20, 2009 at 10:42 AM

loving it, can’t wait to get my hands on the vinyl copy.

hutlock  on April 20, 2009 at 1:49 PM

Oh, but there’s a mystery bonus track on the CD version! :-)

littlewhiteearbuds  on April 20, 2009 at 2:05 PM

Not to mention the CD version has double the amount of tracks – and not one is worth missing.

Sam  on April 20, 2009 at 2:10 PM

I like this stuff a lot and will be buying the album as soon as I can find it online (love his 2562 stuff too, and got that as soon as it was released).

Totally off topic – But, I gotta say that the pic of the little boy chokes me up a bit – still he looks happy enough, and the bionic legs will help him lead a pretty normal life I guess. Still, always tough to see kids having to overcome such obstacles…

per silverbeat  on April 20, 2009 at 3:11 PM

Yeah I was very happy to get my vinyl copy the other day but then felt bummed by not having krdl-2-grv and others on there. Nice poster though

chris  on April 20, 2009 at 6:41 PM

great album. really shows his diversity as a producer. it’s a great listen from beginning to end.
seventy-four and elden st. are particularly impressive.

JEh  on April 20, 2009 at 6:43 PM

LOL!~!

Totally off topic – But, I gotta say that the pic of the little boy chokes me up a bit – still he looks happy enough, and the bionic legs will help him lead a pretty normal life I guess. Still, always tough to see kids having to overcome such obstacles…

Andi Chapple  on April 21, 2009 at 4:47 AM

well written and helpful review, thankyou. the tracks sound nice – I’ve enjoyed hearing and mixing some of Martyn’s singles, goodness his stuff does roll. the tracks you’ve posted here were nice to listen to and have made me want to investigate the album; my feeling is, though, I’ll be cherry-picking it on download … one problem I have with Martyn’s stuff is his (over)use of vocals – not so much when it’s a lead element, when it’s part of the texture.

hutlock  on April 21, 2009 at 11:27 AM

Not to plug them TOO hard but I just bought the CD at Juno for $8.99 (follow the link above!) with free shipping to the US (and I think the shipping to the UK is free too). I tend to think you’re not gonna find a better deal than that!

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