Today, not many of the artists who led the forward-thinking Montreal techno scene of the early aughts have found a way to remain relevant; some have buried themselves deep enough into their specific niches that we've all but lost track, while others have seemingly halted their efforts altogether. Scott Montieth has remained an exception though, and in the midst of his 13th year producing as Deadbeat, his latest album, Eight, only further proves why. Incorporating the Berlin transplant's unwavering dedication to dub techno and detailed sound design, Montieth again expands his repertoire on his new LP, forming an image of a veteran artist who has evolved in style and tone while still remaining true to his to roots.
Dub techno can be a polarizing genre, with newer generations of listeners likely associating the style with minimal techno more than with its place at the roots of genre behind pioneering outfits like Basic Channel and Rhythm and Sound. In the early to mid '00s, Montieth and his contemporaries (perhaps most importantly at the now defunct ~scape imprint) brought the sound into the digital world, taking the foundation of echoed sounds, half-stepping rythyms, and massive bass into their computers and mixing in intricate digital textures and experimental dancefloor flavors to land on a new wave of dense, subdued techno. On Eight, many of these facets are still at the base of Deadbeat's work. His nuanced approach to detailed percussion and airy, hi-fi touch marks the album's high-end spectrum while the dub-influenced patterns serve as the songs' most basic structures. However, Deadbeat cloaks these pillars of his sound with a new intensity, sharpening his tones into tougher forms and incorporating much more analog girth into his productions, both of which are likely the result of the Berlin resident's new studio space and recently acquired analog toys: a Moog and Prophet 600 synthesizer.
These newly introduced tones are immediately detectable, but are by no means overpowering. The first pair of album offerings, "The Elephant in the Pool" and "Lazy Jane" (which features Canadian producer/instrumentalist Danuel Tate), are the most straightforward combinations of Deadbeat's past and present, as the dub aesthetic lines up directly against the thicker sounds to form sturdy hybrids. Shortly thereafter, Montieth blurs those same lines to greater effect, landing on the album's most rewarding moments with "Wolves and Angels"—a sequenced, synth-led roller which slowly journeys into an immense sonic atmosphere—the deep, textured four-on-the-floor techno of "My Rotten Roots," and the bass-loaded, percussion-laden, and free-flowing closer, "Horns of Jericho."
Through it all, it's unclear if Deadbeat has adapted to the current musical landscape or has just managed to evolve as an artist in a way which rings true within the context of his newer contemporaries. As with all of his records, Eight takes on a slightly different shape than anything before it, further solidifying the man's reputation as a producer capable of continuing to refine his techniques while landing on new and powerful ideas with each release.
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