Ever since he made his entrance on the electronic music scene with "The Sad Piano" in 2003, Justin Martin has continued to press on, turning out bass-heavy yet beautifully melodic productions on a regular basis. It's become something of a calling card for the San Francisco inhabitant, who helped co-found Dirtybird alongside Claude VonStroke and others, which is where his debut long-player Ghettos & Gardens finds a home.
Martin's album is, unsurprisingly, largely comprised of music that surmises his ability to meld opposing extremes of sound. "Hood Rich," "Ruff Stuff" and the title track are all representative of the Martin school of production, tracks that will no doubt take the roof off festivals tents around the globe, yet still maintain an air of subtlety at their core. But, thankfully, he uses the album as an opportunity to show his sensitive side, moving from the harder end of the spectrum to more considered productions—"Take Don't Go" for instance, a smooth, 2-step-esque track with a high-pitched female vocal. Further dalliances involving less parping basslines and more focus on chords and strings can be heard on "Butterflies" and the lush, down-tempo closer, "Ladybug."
A collaboration with fellow San Fran denizens Pillow Talk produces one of the album's highlights with "The Gurner"—a love song no less (with a twist). Renowned for his remix work, Martin also includes his take on Goldie's classic "Kemistry," although in this case it's a little too much of a classic to be reinterpreted in the way that Martin chooses too: bass-heavy (as you may expect) but lacking the emotion and depth of the original. With Ghettos & Gardens Martin reinforces his reputation for slick, high-quality productions which reflect his good humoured personality. The album stays reasonably well-balanced throughout, straddling that fine line between understatement and being sledgehammer-esque obvious.
Tracklist: Justin Martin - Ghettos & Gardens 01. Hood Rich
02. Don't Go
03. Ghettoes & Garden
05. Goldie - Kemistry (Justin Martin remake)
06. French Kisses
07. Ruff Stuff
09. Lezgo VIP (Justin Martin vs. Ardalan)
10. The Gurner (Justin Martin vs. Pillow Talk)
11. Night Calling
12. Riding Spaceships (Justin Martin vs. Leroy Peppers)