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Deadbeat - Drawn and Quartered

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Artist: Deadbeat

Album: Drawn and Quartered


Review date: Jul. 29, 2011

Deadbeat - Drawn and Quartered Preview (BLKRTZ)

Canadian Scott Monteith has been making techno dub for 10 years. Drawn and Quartered marks all sorts of turning points — relocation to Berlin, becoming a parent and debuting his own vinyl imprint. The move overseas is the operative one for the music: German techno, with small, squared off beats, is the aesthetic that dominates. Transecting echoes of dub nudge along these tracks, each of which fill a whole LP side. But they’re the limbs that transport the pulsing heart.

What makes a piece of heady dance music feel closer to techno or dub in 2011? Plenty of modern tracks bears the traces of 1970s Jamaica and ‘80s Detroit, but rarely do they try to literally recreate the music of either time or place. Too many generations have gone by, and the form rarely aims for retro. But even without vintage gear or strict homage, the principles of old technologies feed the music. Dub is the product of mixing desks becoming mainstream, and techno is the parallel outcome of samplers and drum machines becoming affordable. The contrast between the two comes with how the flow of time is treated. A mixing desk implies time moving in an arrow, as the tape beneath the faders run to the end. A sampler implies time cycling, as loops and drum patterns overlap and phase. I don’t mean this in some sort of profound or philosophic sense (though it’s a split that’s been noted). To throb out musical intoxication, a techno joint whirls, and a dub is a series of chambers revealing ever deeper secrets.

Drawn and Quartered is a pretty intoxicating whirl. The only explicitly dub references come on the “fifth quarter” track, which doesn’t make it on the vinyl release. That track halts after a wispy intro, coming back in with a ska horn chart and one drop bass that flows through key changes. For the four official sides, the frequencies naturally covered by bass guitar are mostly empty, with lower-than-low tones providing a shifting floor. “First Quarter” and “Second Quarter” build themselves gradually, while “Third” and “Fourth” start with a groove and stick with it. All of them put more gears in the clockwork than the work by Rhythm & Sound and Pole that probably led Monteith to Germany, but Drawn is hardly busy. The extra layers always serve the core beat. Even the mostly ambient “Third” has a slow sway that’s implied by alternating between two long tones.

The peak of joy (and Drawn and Quartered is brighter than the title or the producer’s name suggest) comes on “Second,” where foggy palpitations assemble into a hop. Crinkled treble is pushed aside like the wake of a motorboat, as the hop bounces among the waves. As other click-and-bump expats like Shackleton and Morphosis assemble in Berlin, Deadbeat’s moves are full of good choices.

By Ben Donnelly

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