Review ·

Ghislain Poirier has been dodging and weaving between a few different projects, including his hip-hop output on Chocolate Industries and his grittier throwback business on Kid606's Shockout imprint. Most of his work has been engaging,  including 2005's standout Breakupdown full-length, but his best work always seems to appear in a far briefer context. No Ground Under is remarkable in its ability to take a production style that's very much rooted in the short-attention-span dynamics of dancehall riddims and hip-hop beats and create a cohesive, extended study of the sound.

 

Above all, the instrumentals are outstanding. Although he retains (and relishes in) the hardware-sampler filthiness of his earlier work, his production is notably more layered and complex. There is a noteable ground-up reverence shown to building sound palates, even when doing genre studies in worlds that are currently dominated by premade kits and presets. When something as simple as a drum machine and a loop are running, he doesn't hesitate to twist, add, and subtract, providing the kind of forward narration that separates Poirier from his peers. The beats surge forward with the clunky grace of Voltron jogging, achieving the aggression of dancehall and hip-hop without dumbing down his compositions in favor of immediacy.

 

The reason the whole thing works, however, is that Ghislain has an excellent ear for vocal tracks as well. There are a slew of artists who are talented producers but lose much of their control over their tracks when engineering a human being. His background in hip-hop means his guest vocals never sound plastered on.

 

Even when singers and live instruments enter the fray, they never sound gimmicky. Poirier displays complete control over the world his songs reside in. Arabic violin, percussive polyrhythms, thumb piano, and other elements on the record often sound tacky when placed in a context such as a Ninja Tune record. On No Ground Under, they stand beside gritty distorted kick drums with no trouble.

 

There are times when the songs push their luck a bit too much, and the exuberance and confidence of Poirier's beats and his vocalists don't always match the actual quality of the song. “City Walking” is built from an excellent instrumental but features fellow Canuk Abdominal spitting unforgivably lame lyrics about an anonymous metropolis, which becomes even more lame when you realize he's probably talking about Toronto.

 

But No Ground Under is an excellent example of what happens when a talented producer stays hungry. Instead of masking imperfections with fuzzy DIY bedroom-producer shortcuts, Poirier creates perfection in a lo-fidelity world we don't hear from often enough.

 

*** 

Artist: http://www.ghislainpoirier.com

Label: http://www.ninjatune.net

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/ghislainpoirier

Endstille - Endstilles Reich Prefuse 73 Preparations

everything i've heard from ghislain to date has been good. this album is pretty amazing.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/daba/me-bermudajpg.jpg Daba

SXSW!

joeho

I did an interview with Ghislain recently, in which he talks about the new sound he is trying to create using elements of Caribbean soca. You can read it here: www.earplug.cc/160300

Number 45

Damn. Give Abdominal a break. It's not "an anonymous metropolis". It's the very concept of the metropolis. And the fact that they are so full of the wonders of human life, and that you need to be on foot to appreciate that.

Oh right, hip-hoppers are supposed to talk about rolling through the city in a Benz with 20-inch rims, ignorant of the teeming masses living out their lives in those streets, laughing, loving...

"in other words humans being human
hidden from view in appartments and condo units
universally going through identical stuff
but in the city never evident as such
cause much of the drama like I said unfolds
behind closed doors which is why when I roll through on foot
down below I try to picture it
comforting to think my predicaments are common ones
shared by many cause although the city's busy it often feels empty
and that's when I hit the streets
headphones on my ears playing gritty beats
each step reaffirming that I'm not alone
mad life teeming behind the brick and stone
not the same in a car, too fast to taste it
I'll stick to my feet and the pavement"

Gets my respect.

Louis

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