DMX Krew – Ghost Bubbles

4 out of 5

Label: Terrestrial Funk

Produced by: Ed DMX

Label Terrestrial Funk, as per their website, aims to “birth and perpetuate timeless music through the ages.” They seem to have kicked things off with reissues of some funk, boogie, and disco oddities, and it seems fitting for their first modern release to tap one of the master’s of cross-generational groove: Ed DMX. Ed’s catalogue has ranged from kitschy to serious; from retro to cutting edge; and he’s often able to marry those things all together, o’er his slew of singles and albums throughout the years.

‘Ghost Bubbles’ is an interesting title – conjuring up something playful, but ephemeral – and is a powerhouse of back-to-back dancefloor greats, every single track nailing an immediate head-bobbing, unique rhythm. DMX’s appeal, to me, is often in his ability to boil a song down to its necessary elements – a beat, a couple of synth lines – and find surprising variations and excitement with them, always paced to keep the listener entertained on headphones or in the club, whatever your listening pleasure. Bubbles delivers that at an almost primal level, as though Ed took the ‘funk’ of the label’s title as a mandate and conjured up the 13 most grabbing beats he could imagine – something at which he wholly succeeds. Interestingly, the album has a slightly darker edge than many of his recent, more 80s-tinged singles have been; this helps to give the relatively short runtimes some weight, and also allows the artist to poke and prod that formula into slightly bouncier and light-hearted variants that shake things up.

Only one track here really lacks panache – Headmounted Display is more repetitive than anything, although its core beat is fun – and sometimes the relative get-in get-out brevity works against things, preventing some of the rhythms from having enough room to breathe. However, the album as a whole also seems to expand on that somewhat, with the A- and B-sides coming across as limited expressions that blossom into more complex, brooding affairs on the C-side, evolving into a brilliantly weird and modern D-side.