Here to put a calligraphed exclamation point on our surreal political present, Britain’s Ghostpoet releases a new album this week. Dark Days + Canapés finds Obaro Ejimiwe — more of a spoken word artist than traditional singer — dropping pensive meditations in his distinctively droopy drawl over anxious, rubbery rhythms. Though his lyrics often aim at the interpersonal, the dystopian promo videos for “Immigrant Boogie” and “Freakshow” underline the broader political, cultural, and environmental resonances in his message.
Aided by capable musicians and guest vocalists here and there, Ghostpoet’s music draws a line through post-punk’s mechanistic abstractions, the blunted tempos of trip-hop, grime’s futuristic grit, and — bet you didn’t see this coming — the dusky romanticism of late-period Leonard Cohen. Which is another way of saying, at times this album recalls the liquid, elegiac music that David Bowie made on his last record (or, alternately, suggests the possibility that Bowie had wandered into Ghostpoet territory toward the end). Through Dark Days + Canapés beats a steady emotional heart (captured particularly well on “Dopamine If I Do”) that channels the universal humanity in Ghostpoet’s unsettling sounds.
A sociology professor living in upstate New York, Leonard Nevarez is patiently waiting until his kids are old enough for a family roadtrip to Maryland Deathfest. He blogs at musicalurbanism.org and is writing a book about Martha & the Muffins and the late 70s/early 80s downtown Toronto music scene.