Album of the Week: Goldie – The Journey Man

Almost twenty years on from his last solo outing Goldie returns to the album format to put any doubts of his proficiency in the studio to rest. The Journey Man suggest Drum n Bass is far from resigned to the echelons of history and it took one of its founding fathers to establish it in a modern context for the rest of us. Where the genre has certainly fallen into a kitsch stylised version of itself, Goldie has breathed new life into the genre with his latest creation, and in some very fine ways returned it into the loving care of its urban roots. If ever there was anybody to represent these roots it would be Goldie.

The statesman for Drum n Bass, Goldie is the enigmatic figurehead of Metalheadz, an institution of the genre and beyond, who have inspired countless artists across the broad spectrum of electronic music. A natural showman, DJ and who would have thought it, actor, Goldie is a poseur with the talent to back it up and as social commentator and music expert his criticisms always tend to hit the nail on the head. As an artist thus, he can’t quite just release a piece of music, he has to make a statement and for The Journey Man that statement is bold, unique, cutting a discerning path through the stale repetitive traditions of music.

Based on the typical foundation of drum n bass, The Journey man is atypical of the banal functionalism and paint-by-numbers nature established genres tend to go in. Slowing down the excessive tempos of the past and finding some human dimension through vocals and sweet plaintive melodic- and harmonic phrasing, Goldie has managed to open up an entirely new dimension in the Drum n Bass genre. The grit from his earlier work remains however and although Goldie as a person has probably fallen for the trappings of luxury, as is his right, the music retains the sound of an urban sprawl. Hi-hats dusted with distortion, indignant kicks breaking out of the confines of their frequency range and deep growling bass-lines sneering with the full effect of Goldie’s midas beam, coalesce in fervent visceral arrangements.

At the same time The Journey Man shows a softer side to the hard man from Walsall, as songs like “Mountains” and “This is not a love song” relay a gentler Goldie, the sweet innocent person behind the braggadocio of a tv personality. These songs also showcase Goldie’s vast musical range as he touches on elements of R&B and Jazz and combine them with his rich, albeit familiar electronic palette. Goldie proves Drum n Bass is certainly alive and well, but has shown that it can do with breaking out of it’s strict confines on The Journey Man, and its something we definitely is worth listening to.