Anyone who’s ever listened to dub—the instrumental offshoot of reggae—knows how predictable and dull it oftentimes sounds. Thankfully, though, Montreal’s Deadbeat (aka Scott Monteith) corrupts and exploits the stylistic boundaries inherent in the genre to create a fresh, cutting-edge approach with Journeyman’s Annual.
His innovative technique spawns from combining beefy bass—the kind you can feel rumbling in your chest—with crisp drum programming, staccato minor-key melodies and what sound like processed field recordings. He then alters these sounds by panning them through the stereo field and drowning them in a shifting haze of echo and reverb effects. The result is a catchy yet complex amalgamation of experimental electronic, dub, reggae, dancehall and hip-hop.
But what separates this release from Deadbeat’s 2005 New World Observer are the guest vocalists and punchy dancehall rhythms. And while the earlier release does include vocal samples and danceable rhythms, the vocals are mostly sliced up and the beats tend to be slow and lethargic. With Journeyman’s Annual, he’s added MCs to the mix, and he’s upped the tempo as well as the impact of his drums. It’s a route that’s neither dull nor predictable, and it’s destined to engage your mind as well as your booty. (Ira Sather-Olson)