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Digging Deep: Deadbeat

Digging Deep: Deadbeat
Rhemayo Brooks

This month sees the release of Scott Monteith aka Deadbeat’s highly anticipated new album Walls and Dimensions. Far from just another dancefloor-aimed record, the inspiration for this latest collection comes from a much more difficult place for the seasoned producer.

“A wise old curmudgeon once said that all great art is born of great suffering, and if that sentiment holds true this album has had plenty of fuel for it’s proverbial fire,” he says of the writing process.

Canadian-born Monteith rests within that revered space of musicians who fully embody their sound. With well over fifteen years of production under his belt, Deadbeat is undoubtedly a veteran. He remains a fully paid up patron of dub techno – the form he first became associated with and to which he’s stayed true throughout the years; championing it unwaveringly with his moody and impossibly atmospheric output since the turn of the century and the curation of his own BLKRTZ imprint.

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This LP follows what was not only a turbulent, but cathartic period for Monteith. It draws both on contemporary stems, while weaving together a collection of more unfamiliar threads. With Walls and Dimensions, Monteith presents a striking new sense of gravity and cutting lyricism, elegantly showcasing his wide ranging tastes. He contends, “It is my great hope that some of these newest pieces can offer that same crucial sense of release for other people.”

For such a significant and deeply emotive release, we hoped to delve deeper into the influential process that led to his magnificently textured contemporary productions. We reached out to Scott to explore those tracks that have spawned, inspired and shaped his long-lasting career, both then and now – and he responded in kind with this wonderful collation which spans civil rights era Gospel and ’90s Grunge (and that’s just the first two tracks).

Listen in full to Scott’s eight selections in the playlist below.

1. Traditional Adapted by Pete Seeger among others – We Shall Overcome

My father was a United Church minister throughout my childhood so my first strong memories associated with music are mostly associated with church music. When I was 11 we moved to the Eastern Townships outside of Montreal in Quebec, and the youth programs there associated with the church had long and strong links to the 60s and 70s peace and civil rights movements. Twice yearly they hosted weekend long youth forums at different churches throughout the region and the collective singing of songs from that era figured very heavily in the weekend’s activities. These experiences had a very lasting impact on me as they taught me the joy of singing and making music together with others and the idea that even the simplest words or melodies can hold enormous amounts of power to effect change when deployed with honesty. This track is of course an absolute classic and I could have picked any number of versions of it, but this one is on an absolutely beautiful compilation called “Sing For Freedom: The Story of Civil Right Movement through Its songs” that I picked up here at the Mauerpark flea market, which come to think of it is kind of a wonderful co-incidence given the history.

2. Sleep – Dope Smoker

In my early teens I played bass in a couple of bands. This is at the height of the Seattle/Grunge era I and my band mates were like many people drawn to the likes of Nirvana, The Melvins, Earth, Mudhoney, etc. A friend’s older sister gave me this on tape and it completely blew my head off. It just had Jerusalem written in black felt tip, no other info and for the longest time I thought that was the name of the band. I still love everything about this record, the slowness, the heaviness and the fact the sound is bass centric. I’ve always been drawn to epic pieces of music in both content and length and from that era this is the king of them all as far as I’m concerned.   That tape is long gone but thankfully I got the CD along with a bunch of my other favourites from that time at the shop Oren Ambarchi was working at in Melbourne some years ago while on tour.

3. Muslimgauze – Sadhu

After stopping with the band thing my tastes started to head farther a field and through various friends began to discover industrial and electronic music. By far the most lasting influence from this realm of things both in terms of still regularly listening to it and eventually on my own music making is Muslimgauze. Bryn Jones was an absolute giant in terms of sonic experimentation and a shining example of how non-lyrical music can hold vast political weight. He was also insanely prolific. I remember some years ago finding an internet radio site which played nothing but Muslimgauze for a full week and I’m sure it could have continued for several more.

4. Infernal Noise Brigade – Nagarawallah

One of the first times I went down to play in NYC was for a small Mutek showcase at an early incarnation of the Bunker nights. We stayed with Bryan who, bless his heart, still runs the Bunker to this day and still kills it. He was living with the couple who was running the Broklyn Beats label and being the 7 inch fan that I am I couldn’t help but dive into the stock they had in the house. One of the best  records I picked up that day was by Infernal Noise Brigade, a Seattle based Anarchist drum core and voice marching band that played various demos and protests over the years. I couldn’t find a link to the exact track from the 7 but the above video gives a pretty good indication of the awesome power these guys could summon up. Would love to have seen this live.

5. Terry Riley – A Rainbow in Curved Air

I was very late to the party in discovering the work of Terry Riley and his contemporaries like Morten Feldman, Steve Reich, Phillip Glass, etc. I don’t come from an academic background and it seems this is where most people tend to discover the awesome body of work these guys brought into the world. Around the corner from our old flat here in Berlin there is a wonderful store that specializes in wine and records, two of my favourite things, and the owner is a real expert on this age of music. I’ve spent many a happy hour there sipping wine and getting schooled there, and always come home with a few new pieces to delve into. This is by far one of my favourites. I discover new pathways in it with every listen.

6. Carl Bradney – Slipping into Darkness

I’m an absolute reggae fanatic and have more reggae records than any other genre by a long shot. I love all eras of Jamaican music and take great pleasure in collecting the original 7s and multiple versions of the tunes I like. If I had to pick an all time favourite, this very likely might be it. This is of course a cover of the War song Slipping into Darkness, as covered by Carl Bradney, produced by Lee Scratch Perry and recorded at the legendary Black Ark studio. I own 3 copies of this song, the 7 inch pictured with the link, a 10 inch reissue from PK/Honest Johns, and the Darker Than Blue compilation on Soul Jazz. The compilation has just been reissued and there is not a bad song on it, really can’t recommend it enough.

7.  Camaron de Isla and Paco de Lucia – Por Bulerias

I played in Geneva for Sonja Moonear’s birthday party a number of years ago and after the party went back to her and my good friend Martin Schopf’s house and had a wonderful morning sitting in their beautiful garden drinking wine, listening to music and enjoying the sunshine. At some point in the morning Martin took me a side and said he wanted to play me something in the house. He put on a record by Camaron and Paco de Lucia and I was in tears in all of about 10 seconds. You really can’t go wrong with any of the material they did together, the greatest guitar player in history with the saddest voice the world has ever known.

8. Asif Ali Khan Santoo Qawwal – Madine Ke Waali Madine Bula Lo

I think I probably heard Qawwali music for the first time like a lot of westerner’s in the sound track to The Last Temptation of Christ. Every summer there is a wonderful music festival at the Haus de Kulturen der Welt called Wasser Musik which concentrates on the music of a different coastal region. This year’s festival was called Mother India and Asif Ali Kahn, a student of the great Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn who featured in the aforementioned soundtrack, was on the bill. The performance with is ensemble is far and away the most magnetic musical performance I have seen in years and am so happy I had the presence of mind to grab a CD on the way out. Soaring melodies, mind melting vocal performances, insanely complex rhythms. Simply beautiful, ’nuff said.

Walls and Dimensions is out now on BLKRTZ.