Martyn presents Voids, his new album and first for Ostgut Ton. Expanding heavily on a catalogue of certified classics for labels including Dolly, Hyperdub, Brainfeeder, Ninja Tune, Warp and his own 3024 label (run together with visual collaborator Jeroen Erosie), Voids builds upon Martyn's rich discography to date but never rests on past glories. This is the sound of an artist who has undergone medical emergency and personal loss and has harmonized these things into a metamorphosis of musical transformations. Martyn's Voids manages the rare achievement of outshining all of his previous records to date with nine tracks of sheer magnitude and velocity within the genre we now only know as the sound of Martyn.
Having narrowly avoided death in recent years after suffering from a heart attack, Martyn returned to his studio and undertook a time of reassessment of both what characterises his music and the core components of what drives him to create the sounds. Recorded deep in the mode of self-assessment, his listening habits centred around Max Roach’s 1979 ensemble percussion album M’Boom. The swing of Roach’s instrumentation mixed with Martyn's evaluation of what makes his musical mind turn (sampling, unpredictability, melancholy, sci-fi, polyrhythms, texture, ecstatic moments, Detroit, interlocking percussion and bass) spurred on a creative flow that turned into Voids, an album that knows exactly where its come from yet has no fear of moving fwd.
Opening gambit Voids One slowly unfurls around a haunted mix of hospital machinery bleeps, swirling vocals overhead and a liquified sense of returning to the surface to gasp for air. This moves into Manchester, a track dedicated to Martyn's close friend Marcus Intalex (RIP) who passed away in May 2017, leaving a big hole in both drum & bass and techno. From the track’s elegantly poised vocal loop ("Deep, deep down we've lost a big one"), the track pays perfect tribute to the deep DNB and aqua techno sound of Marcus's productions as both Intalex and Trevino, as well as his flagship Soul:ution club night. Ripe with a rolling low key, yet melodic DNB melancholy, its expansive feel perfectly captures the wide open atmospheres and city streets of Manchester, taking the next steps ahead from his breakthrough track Broken from 2007, which Marcus released via his R:evolver imprint.
The Broken vibe is continued within the opening dub chords of Mind Rain and the growling bassline of Nya. Each track takes a solid shape of glacial garage that’s been entirely swallowed up by a steamrolled drum beat that recontextualizes elements of Nyabinghi, drum ‘n‘ bass, and Gqom into Martyn's unique, post-dubstep flex. The Detroit influence continues to shine strong on Why, where the pads create a world of expansive and spacious dreamlike feelings that we associate with the very best Carl Craig classics. World Gate and Cutting Tone carve up some of the heaviest beats we've heard from Martyn yet, these are pure UKG indebted bangers that have been reimagined for the extended DJ sets that take shape during his residency at Berghain/Panorama Bar. While on the downtempo tip, Try To Love You builds on the best elements of his more low key releases with some floating in a sea of sorrow chords and a subtle piano notes that fall down like raindrops, offering a moment of introverted decompression from the musical therapy of which the album was created. Finally, things come to a close on Voids Two, a shuffling breakbeat that unfurls across six minutes of pure full force yet perfectly balanced pressure.