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Deadbeat - Eight

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Artist: Deadbeat

Album: Eight


Review date: Sep. 11, 2012

Scott Monteith knows how to blanket a beat. In his spacious electronics, the character of the initial rhythm morphs as it becomes wrapped in dub-derived drones. The brighter frequencies become muffled, and new rhythms emerge from the layers. The effect is like low-fidelity accidents presented in HD.

His last outing, Drawn and Quartered, took its time laying down the sediment. Each track pushed past 10 minutes, and some waited half that before unleashing the bass. That slow boil approach was a strength, in that it allowed the songs to end up quite a ways from their starting points. When the manic energy developed, it was hard to place the point in time when the water started to bubble.

Eight is both more concise and more varied. It’s an easier record to grasp at first, and less fulfilling because of that ease. That’s not to say Monteith is slouching. Some of the variations aren’t fully realized, but the expanded pallet shows that there’s a lot he can do with his techniques. He aims his streaked lens at different styles, and most every shot is intriguing.

The ripple that drives “Wolves and Angels” is perforated synth arpeggio, but it’s immediately toned down by echoing dub chords. The hindered techno wants to move, but it’s like a speedboat caught in a foggy harbor, the busy notes enveloped by the silhouetted blocks of sound. The track comes closest to the deep digging of Drawn and Quartered, a steady pulse tangled up in unpredictable accents.

Further afield, he opens the record with 10-ton dubstep, complete with wobbles and leaking industrial valves. He doesn’t coax anything fresh out of the groove, but that’s a Herculean task at this point. He’s better off on the dropped-four stepping of “Lazy Jane” with its warped, gentle vocals. Words are discernible but borderline nonsensical, a Jamaican delivery lacking a Jamaican patois, as if Gregory Issacs was summoned in seance from the lovers rock great beyond. “May Rotten Roots” is house music with its bright bits buffed, the steady thump ratcheted back with a two-step beat. Rays of light are reduced to pinholes.

But the most original configuration on Eight is its Latin stutter, hinted at early on and brought to full force during the climactic “Horns of Jericho.” There, a thin bass note starts ponging about, monotone and giddy. Chirps and salsa fingersnaps come in, seeming like touches of house at first, until you realize that Deadbeat is working with the ultimate in bubblegum rhythms, a Bo Diddley. The hanging, moaning notes that are usually bent strings are rendered in buzzing horns. But it can’t turn dark. No matter how restrained or ominous the tone is, you want this candy.

By Ben Donnelly

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