CD Review

Montreal DJ/producer Ghislain Poirier is known for remixing songs from artists like Lady Sovereign and Lil Mama to excellent effect; his mix of the latter's “Lip Gloss” is particularly charming. His original compositions usually feature Canadian MCs, and No Ground Under is no different. But the disc is more about showcasing Poirier's own talents than providing a platform for those rappers to strut their stuff. There's little in the way of straight-ahead hip-hop, and besides, the heavily chopped mixes don't really give the MCs much room to shine. (“City Walking,” featuring a well-used Abdominal, is an exception.) Instead, Poirier slowly pulls his tricks out of his bag, one at a time, from the Middle Eastern flavor of “Exils” to the dancehall bounce on “Go Ballistic” and “No More Blood” to the ambient noise of “Hit and Red.”

As you'd expect, some tracks work better than others. No Ground Under's greatest success is “Mangnen L'boulé,” an extremely textured, cinematic, creeping slow-burner featuring Nik Myo; it'll send shivers down your spine, even if you don't speak French. Sadly, many of the other tracks function as little more than highly stylized background music. The stops and starts on “Massive” probably should have just stuck with the former, for example, and some tracks just sort of fade into the ether. Poirier can't seem to decide if he's trying to rock a dance floor or make a cerebral, thought-provoking piece, so he ends up doing neither.

The album lacks a unifying sound or idea. Poirier almost seems to have too much creative freedom here, and so, he has indulged his every whim. As he's demonstrated with his remixes, he's better-served when he allows his MCs to share the creative burden.

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