Ghislain Poirier: No Ground Under
Ninja Tune

A relentless and fiery follow-up to 2005's Breakupdown, Ghislain Poirier's No Ground Under is a banging clubby throwdown that pulls back slightly from hip-hop to make room for a more pronounced Caribbean-influenced sound; the record's crunked-out riddims bear out Poirier's own characterization of No Ground Under's sound: “cosmopolitan bass & chunky digital dancehall.” It's no insular bedroom album either as Poirier shares the spotlight with a slew of guests: Face-T, Zulu, Abdominal, Mr Lee G, Abdelhak Rahal, and more.

The good times start with the brief “Courto” where a friend plays a bass line into Poirier's answering machine, after which MC Face-T's verbal somersaults help detonate the bass-heavy “Bounce Le Gros” club-funk of “Blazin” and Quebec rap group Omnikrom brings the noise to the neck-slapping hip-hop of “Jusqu'en haut.” The sub-bass funk that oozes below Face-T in “No More Blood” is especially tasty, as is the tribal hip-hop of “One Hand Can't Clap.” The stoned boom-bap of “City Walking” is nicely enhanced by Abdominal's smooth flow, and the pairing of Moroccan violinist Rahal's sawing with Poirier's throbbing hip-hop pulse in “Exils” is memorable too. “Diaspora” and “Dem Nah Like Me” also strongly argue for Poirier's serpentine mix of electro, funk, and hip-hop. (Though Zulu's ecstatic growl is infectious, the repetitive call-to-arms “Go Ballistic,” on the other hand, seems too cloying and obvious.)

A few tracks cool the pace long enough for one to catch one's breath (“Hit & Red”) but the album's generally an amped-up steamroller. If there's one thing that No Ground Under definitely isn't, it's tentative. Poirier's in full-on attack mode here, fearlessly throwing down with all stylistic cylinders burning.

February 2008