...official SubVersion review of Goldie - "The Journeyman 3CD", by Andy Popin
It's fine to comment on whole triple albums...and if you are reviewing for publication purposes other than self, it is just the kind of sheet you do, implicitly. But for me, there's something extra extra special about the closing (read: not bonus) third CD that concludes Cliffy 'Goldie''s best work since "Timeless" in his triple disc mother lode, "The Journeyman" on Metalheadz. Not only did it manage to make this hefty rockhead shed a few tears at recent exterior memories on my favourite piece of his whole album, the totally friggin terrific "Run Run Run" piano focused piece (yes it has piano, go figure) but "The Instra Suites", as this ascending journey disc spanning nearly eighty minutes and no less is titled, confirmed to me what I love best about Goldie - when he "actually finishes a tune".
Insult? No way.
For anyone who knows Ciiffy, whether it's just journalistically from afar like me and the average Joe, the ethic of putting the kitchen sink in good and proper - on each tune - is clear, and that dialectic genius he has of one of the precious few which too much weed didn't mess up musically from the 1990s is as clear as day on, for me personally, and to agree with Goldie for once, a better opus effort than "Timeless", the album that garnered so much acclaim.
Let's dispense with the long-winded verbals for a moment, and just appreciate the scene. Goldie has been around. God, is that an understatement? James Bond's assasin in The World Is Not Enough; the two left-footed Dad on Strictly Come Dancing; faux-thug on soapy depressant Eastbenders (pardon no pun); first-year psych workout Celebrity Big Brother glam points on a career spanning over three decades from the foundations of B-boy graff, Reinforced Records graft and London street seller grit and grime. It really shows on the closing dnb-turned-Detroit-tech cut "Redemption" at the end of disc three, a fiercely inventive swipe at the hangers-on of Jeff Mills, Frankie Knuckles Chicago-an House, Laurent Garnier acid techno Eiffels; his 'ardcore Rufige Cru life. Meanwhile as on the opener to this journey, "Natalie's Truth", "tomorrow lies in a sculpture", which points towards the Body Of Songs project "Electric Abyss" paradox-psychology of concept construction.
Speaking of more close-to-home, hearty influences, the sounds of "Timeless" engineer Rob Playford (Omni Trio) are dotted all over the analog bass balm and early club warming up sounds of "Horizon". The bass pattern plays a simple trajectory; minor 7th addition to major 7th subtraction but the drum counterpoint reverses and kaleidoscopically explodes the flow. In addition, musically so, glimmers of light piano and Rhodes points to roads untravelled by liquid funk since Lincoln Barret and Dom of Calibre subtracted the stepper breakbeat multi-match and doused in the rinse-and-repeat club putty of rolling percussion. These sounds speak of the unspoken divide between the liquid funk sub genre and atmospheric techno, rotating their influences like a heart-on-sleeve pallbearer passing out pamphlets of multi-faith worship at a parish. In lesser terms, that does not normally happen.
The next chapter takes us down into a Massive Attack and Portishead style meander - and a great one, with utmost focus - called "Mountains". It's too heavy for a strictly chill station; too light for a jungle tearout station. The best kind of description for stuff like this is "saturated hip hop", that Photek tune of the same name. This to me is better, and not just because it's more musical, it also has production balls, not saturated fat. "Ballad Of Celeste" takes that blueprint and adds violin, reducing (or rather transducing) the overall granular convolution that comes with forgetting memories on a journey as they start to happen. The album is low on lacular amnesia, to borrow from The Caretaker's titles; everything fits into place nicely, and is recollected as a memory pure, as it should be. Nice rice-grained harpsichord irons out the attention tenets of the time listening to "Celeste", which is "Mountains" romantic candour and counterpoint suggestion, also bookend with baby chuckles and samples of twinkling Poinsetta prettiness. "Castaway" ups the pace to around 162bpm by my internal heartbeat.
For the first time in this CD, wind instruments are ferociously introduced, darting all over the beat like a moth caught in a circus lightshow. Echoes of the synth used on Seal's "Killer" ("solitary brother, is there still a part of you that wants to live? Soiitary sister, is there still a part of you that wants to give?") sprinkle in the background like a kind of confetti-coloured moss; a disguised past. And that's exactly what "The Journeyman" feels like, on the whole...and a "glorious future past". The transition from hardcore to dnb reimagined for a less nascent, more grown up audience. It's an absolute mind killer of a journey, to use that dnb buzz word; it takes me to spiritual and heavenly palaces of the eye andear without moving a finger, except those on the hand to put this in the CD player with. Everything fits into place, as I have stated throughout.
It's like "The Journeyman" just came to show us that in tomorrow, and even yesterday, lies a sculpture of optimism...and that the journey of life never ends.