Ghostpoet Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam

Ghostpoet's moniker evokes his super-lyrical nature, but the British MC's latest, Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam, is just as much a study in bass-soaked, atmospheric beats. Often compared to Roots Manuva and Tricky ― two other Brits adept at creating moody, innovative music ― Ghostpoet was scooped up by DJ legend Gilles Peterson based on an early four-song EP. Even though it's his debut effort, Peanut Butter plays real polished ― the production is strong enough to stand on its own (instrumental compilation, anyone?) and Ghostpoet's cotton-mouthed flow manages to avoid sounding monotonous, rising and falling to match the mood of each song. Four looped, gloomy piano chords blossom into a quiet jumble of bass and distant bell chimes on "Runrunrun," as Ghostpoet opines, "I heard that in a TV program, so it must be right." Immediately after, lithe Euro-dance synths brush up against orchestral strings and a repetitive, singsong hook on "Up Against Whatever Ever." It's immediately obvious that Peanut Butter is a record of contrasts, bringing to mind a range of UK bass genres, from diva house to trip-hop, but with a distinctly stumbling pace and melancholy tone throughout. "I Just Don't Know" is more up-tempo, pairing electro-metre with 808 claps and cowbell while managing to avoid sounding like the token dance song. Ghostpoet shines best through the London fog that seeps through his songs, leaving faint, chilly traces in its wake. (Brownswood)