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Yppah

They Know What Ghost Know

(Ninja Tune; US: 4 Aug 2009; UK: 18 May 2009)

Well all know how much we love it when an artist you already listen to delivers on a new record. But is it not a whole different experience when you discover a new artist thanks to stumbling on his or her latest effort? And while a friend did recommend this record to me, Yppah’s They Know What Ghost Know still came with that fresh, new-CD smell that has yet to leave my PC, iPod, and car. Besides being an ingenious blend of electronica, hip-hop, and shoegaze, this is what an album is supposed to feel and sound like.


As early as the first notes and drum hits of album-opener “Son Saves the Rest”, Yppah’s production talents are astoundingly clear. The Ninja Tune-signed multi-instrumentalist crafts his gorgeous soundscapes with a slew of guitars, noisy effects, and vibrant drums. And he uses those to build a very cohesive, finely-honed series of tracks that—and some might take issue with this—feature similar vibes. But it’s not to the point where you are hearing the same loop or drum pattern over and over. No, it’s called being consistent and sticking wisely to a theme (or sound in this case) that works.


And across the spacey They Know What Ghost Know, Yppah rarely falters. The only track that sounds just slightly out of place is the rave-ready “City Glow”, which is more or less musical insanity. It’s a little too cliché-techno for my taste, but it at least shows that this producer can branch out without losing the overall sound heard throughout the album. And he actually balances out the flawed “City Glow” with a like-minded but mellower dance party anthem in “Bobbie Joe Wilson”.


Aside from that slight misstep, Yppah’s light-switch remains flipped on from beginning to end. From the soaring flute, stuttering synths, and vibrant drums of “Shutter Speed” to the galactic bliss of the title track, everything simply works. He even comes through with what equates to a noisy beast of a track, “Sun Flower Sun Kissed”, which could easily fit in on a Deerhunter record. Equally as shoegaze-inspired and lush is “Moon Scene 7”, a track filled with crashing drums and feedback-drenched guitars. Other instant highlights include “The Tingling”, which is a beautiful and frantic mess, and the moody, indie-pop-inspired “A Parking Lot Carnival”.


Perhaps most impressive about Yppah’s latest record is the fact that it is able to hold your attention without a single featured vocalist. Music-lovers—from underground hip-hop heads to electronica enthusiasts to post-rockers—know what it’s like to hear a purely instrumental album and feel instantly bored. Sometimes, no matter how talented the artist, you need an emcee or singer to bless the track to make it truly listenable. A recent example of this is J Dilla’s posthumous Jay $tay Paid. While it was solid, there were several instrumentals that could have been left off or made better with a rapper strutting his or her stuff on the beat. But They Know What Ghost Know never, ever features a moment where you are yearning for a voice over the near-perfect music. Could the typical breathy shoegaze vocals have made the tracks fuller or more complete? It’s definitely possible. Are they necessary, though? Absolutely not. And therein lies just how engrossing Yppah’s music truly is.


If you are in the mood for a perfect accompaniment to a rainy evening or a relaxing drive with the windows down, They Know What Ghost Know needs to be on your list of albums to purchase. Hell, it should be on your list in any case. Yppah’s electronica/shoegaze/rock blend might seem alienating to some, but he produces it so well and masterfully that everyone should make an effort to, at the very least, give him a try.

Rating:

Weekly newspaper reporter by day, music reviewer by night (OK, and by day, too). When he's not writing for PopMatters, Andrew spends most of his time at online magazine Prefix and hip-hop site Potholes In My Blog.


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22 Jul 2009
Gumball Machine Weekend was supposed to be a teaser EP for Yppah's full-length record They Know What the Ghost Know (three of the EP's five songs appear on it), but now that the full-length is available, the EP's all but lost its function. Awesome.
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