Deadbeat: Eight

Though Scott Monteith's Deadbeat project—thirteen years and counting—is not immune to the influence of other artists and musical styles, the material the one-time Kitchener, Ontario and current Berlin resident produces under the Deadbeat name always ends up sounding like no else's but his—as if it can't help but come out sounding like Deadbeat. Every release is a surprise, and one never knows whether the latest release will perpetuate the style of the one that's come before or take a dramatic turn. In keeping with that, while last year's Drawn and Quartered (the inaugural full-length release on his own BLKRTZ imprint) presented a far rootsier and dread-fueled Deadbeat sound than had been heard before, Eight finds Monteith invigorating his music with a far more muscular attack by comparison (nowhere on Drawn and Quartered does one encounter the kind of uptempo jump that mobilizes “My Rotten Roots,” for instance).

Part of the reason Eight sounds different from what preceded it can be attributed to the fact that Monteith recently moved into a new Berlin studio stocked with Moog and Prophet 600 synthesizers, traces of which emerge conspicuously on the album tracks. The synthesizer's analog sequencer burble audibly glides atop the rampaging beat pattern coursing through “Wolves and Angels” (produced with Mathew Jonson), for example, while a synthesizer's warble does much the same during the closing minutes of “Yard.”

At album's beginning, “The Elephant in the Pool” serves up seven bruising minutes of bass warble and percussive fury, after which “Lazy Jane (Steppers Dub)” (with Monteith joined by fellow Canadian Danuel Tate) plunges us into a blunted flow of percolating beats and vocal haze. “Alamut” builds ever more urgently into a towering exercise in pulsating bass thrust and kinetic beat thunder, while “Punta de Chorros,” “My Rotten Roots,” and “Yard,” with their slamming snares, thunderous bass drops, and rolling grooves, hit as hard. Dandy Jack lends a helping hand on the anthemic “Horns of Jericho,” which takes the album out with a tribal, bass-throbbing groove that's one of its most potent.

The production design Monteith brings to Eight is one of the its most notable aspects—check out as proof the dubwise echo resounding off of the claps and drums in “Lazy Jane (Steppers Dub)” and the trippy panning treatments that float through “Yard”—, and many tracks indicate that it's the clubbier beat-focused side of the Deadbeat sound that's the primary focus. For all we know, the tracks might have been cobbled together over many months until Monteith realized he had an album's worth of material and decided to throw it out there. But no matter how it came into being, Eight coheres into a powerful statement of intent that adds a strong chapter to an already distinguished catalog.

September 2012