Yppah: They Know What Ghost Know

Lush synthesizers and guitars paired with vibrant drums make up Yppah's latest record, also known as one of 2009's finest.


They Know What Ghost Know

Label: Ninja Tune
US Release Date: 2009-08-04
UK Release Date: 2009-05-18

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.






PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.


David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.


David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.


Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".


Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.


The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.


Landowner's 'Consultant' Is OCD-Post-Punk With Obsessive Precision

Landowner's Consultant has all the energy of a punk-rock record but none of the distorted power chords.


NYFF: 'American Utopia' Sets a Glorious Tone for Our Difficult Times

Spike Lee's crisp concert film of David Byrne's Broadway show, American Utopia, embraces the hopes and anxieties of the present moment.


South Africa's Phelimuncasi Thrill with Their Gqom Beats on '2013-2019'

A new Phelimuncasi anthology from Nyege Nyege Tapes introduces listeners to gqom and the dancefloors of Durban, South Africa.


Wolf Parade's 'Apologies to the Queen Mary' Turns 15

Wolf Parade's debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, is an indie rock classic. It's a testament to how creative, vital, and exciting the indie rock scene felt in the 2000s.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.


Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.


Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.


Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.


Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.


Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.