Scott Montieth makes music that is basically anti-dubstep. Frustrated by the fact that most recent dub techno has been “minor key, sad, dark shit,” Montieth wishes to remind us all that while dub is a production style/aesthetic, it’s one that was originally developed by people involved in making reggae music. And while reggae can indeed by minor key, sad, dark shit, most of it isn’t. So “Rise Again” opens Roots and Wire with a Burial-esque throb before bringing in Paul St. Hilaire (aka Tikiman) to joyfully toast over it. Most of the album—the melodica on the title track, the techno-Rasta drumming on “Grounation (Berghain Drum Jack),” the Vocalcity style pulsing of “Deep Structure”—seeks out the area where he can most productively blend roots, ambient dub and house music together, and the resulting blur is loose and joyous enough that the cross-pollination seems like the most natural thing in the world.
Montieth’s work as Deadbeat isn’t a million miles away from some of his contemporaries (in fact, calling this album Pole-meets-Luomo is reductive but kind of nails it), but it’s striking how the two best tracks on Roots and Wire are the ones with St. Hilaire. The closing “Babylon Correction” especially makes you wonder how great a roots album by a singer open-minded enough to have Montieth produce could be. For now, though, we should be more than happy to have him working on his own.