Montreal's dubwise innovator returns with a concept album of travelling songs...
Louis Pattison 2007
While there’s no lack of rock ’n’ roll albums paying testament to the trials and travails of life on the road, noticeably few dance records make reference to the touring experience. Maybe that should be of no surprise – when it’s just you and a laptop or a box of records, what else is there to do but lose yourself in a good book?
Given this, Journeyman’s Annual carries dance music into a territory that the genre’s seldom trod. Deadbeat, aka Montreal-based dub techno producer Scott Monteith, is one for impressing themes onto his records. 2003’s Something Borrowed Something Blue was an emotional piece about the months leading up to his marriage, while 2005’s New World Observer was a fraught piece that reflected the changing political face of the world around him. Journeyman’s Annual, however, is the result of two years hard touring, a record that aims to reflect, both sonically and emotionally, the sensation of being in near-permanent transit. Soundwise, what this means is muscle. Whereas some earlier albums tended towards a ethereal, ambient reading of the dubbed-out ~scape blueprint, this is an album that’s altogether fatter and beefier than its predecessors – indeed, some tracks here veer eerily close to the South London dubstep sound, a scene that highly prizes the muscular flex of a powerful low end.
Also here is a fair complement of special guests, the presence of who gives Journeyman’s Annual a diverse, shifting flavour. The bumping ‘‘Refund Me’’, featuring UK pirate radio MC Bubbz is dense and heavy, an almost tribal shuffle crammed with bone-rattling percussion, while the ‘’Gimme A Little Slack’’ fills in the gaps between minimal techno and urban bashment, Montreal deejay Jah Cutta discussing his sexual appetite atop a sparse, echoed-out bounce. Elsewhere, there’s subtle violin sweeps from Sophie Trudea of A Silver Mount Zion, and if you want more after ten tracks, a bolted-on remix of Saul Williams’ ‘’Black Stacey’’ that sees the Afro-American poet dropped onto a backdrop of bubbly dub and shrill electronic melodica.