Martyn on Dolly: the chameleonic Dutchman releasing on the resolutely house-focused label of a Dutchwoman. It’s been more than a year since Martyn’s last proper record (the wonderful Ghost People album), and the Newspeak EP largely continues down the 4/4 trail he’s been traveling for awhile now. The exception to this is the record’s massive A-side “Oceania,” a shimmering slice of vintage Martyn. It sounds like it could have been taken right from his 2008 heyday, with its 136-BPM vaguely broken beats, walking sub-bass, and breezy atmospherics all recalling classic Apple Pips and 3024 releases. It’s kind of thrilling to hear this style again. It was such an unavoidable part of the late-2000s landscape that pretty much evaporated after the 10,000th “Bristol × Berlin / Techno × Dubstep” article, but “Oceania” proves that there’s still a lot of vibrancy in the form. With so much of the UK (still) running away as fast as they can from 140 BPM and into the cozy arms of dull house, strong, fleet-footed steppers like “Oceania” become curious breaths of fresh air.
Of course, the B-side is made up of two straight-laced house cuts, but Martyn is far too savvy a producer to resort to faceless house recycling, and Dolly far too good of a label to peddle the stuff. For all the talk of “Martyn music” being its own distinct thing, Martyn tends to actually make good on his word, and the B-side is full of his signature touches and personality flourishes. Rushing out of the gate is “Newspeak” — and I mean that quite literally, as it’s basically missing a lead-in groove which makes cuing a particularly annoying task. Either way, the track itself is a lovely bass line-led stomper, while “What is Room 101″ builds confidently with blurry chords and propulsive percussion work. Overall, the Newspeak EP is a strong record, deftly reliving the producer’s halcyon days while forging ahead with the kind of amiable house sounds that Martyn unleashes on dance floors worldwide every weekend.