THAT’S THE SPIRIT
REMARKABLE RETURN FROM ONE OF BRITAIN’S MOST ORIGINAL MCs.
If good things really do come to those who wait, Obaro Ejimiwe is overdue a change of fortunes. Now 34 and twice overlooked for the Mercury Prize, most recently with 2015’ s daring direction change Shedding Skin, he might easily have faded away. Yet his fourth LP proves his strongest to date, a mesmerising meditation on uncertainty and unease, which bridges the gaps between urban poetry, post-rock and brooding electronica. Ejimiwe’s allusive, introspective, almost casual tone continues a lineage of radically understated British MCs, from Tricky through to post-dubstep talents such as the late, great, Spaceape. But assisted by producer and sometime Brian Eno collaborator Leo Abrahams, the South London-born wordsmith has also expanded his musical horizons. Taking unlikely inspiration from Talk Talk’s late-period masterwork Laughing Stock, the result crackles with creative synergies, Trouble + Me recalling TV On The Radio’s sinuous funk-rock, Freakshow fired up on spiky, Afro-infused dub and Live>Leave imagining what might happen if Radiohead tackled hip-hop. Through it all beguiling, cryptic phrases recur, not least the ironically doleful and strangely addictive “palm trees and Appletinis” refrain, which weaves through the expansive strings and plinking piano of Blind As A Bat…. A richer, more satisfying brew than the guest-packed Shedding Skin, Dark Days & Canapés also finds its author speaking with new confidence – on Woe Is Meee, Massive Attack’s Daddy G is one of just two guest vocalists made to play a strictly supporting role. Ejimiwe’s stage name may suggest a vaporous, wraith-like presence, but this is a statement of real substance. RUPERT HOWE Listen To: Trouble + Me | Freakshow | Live>Leave
Ghostpoet: “bridging the gap between urban poetry, post-rock and brooding electronica.”