Goldie: The Journey Man

Goldie returns after a near decade absence with the lengthy double-album The Journey Man.


The Journey Man

Label: Metalheadz
Release Date: 2017-06-16

Goldie created his new album The Journey Man with history in mind. Deliberately working with the size and scale of his breakout double-album debut Timeless, The Journey Man is meant to be a culmination of Goldie’s musical career thus far. A self-made “Greatest Hits” collection that looks into the past but doesn’t use old songs, instead touching on all the sonic threads that have run through his work thus far and creating new sounds with them.

Timeless (1995), through its ambition and artistry, made Goldie a star and a pivotal figure on the UK electronic scene, bring jungle and drum 'n' bass to the mainstream. His music occupied a space where convergent styles could collide into a new whole. Bringing club-ready percussion to music that was both harmonically tight and well written, it satisfied people that needed to dance as well as more technical-minded IDM fans. But the special thing that put Goldie over the edge and is likely responsible for his success is the inherent soulfulness of his music. Influenced by R&B and hip-hop, Goldie was (and still is) able to make a kind of secular spiritual music the speaks to the humanity encased in otherwise hard-edged genres, giving his music an unlikely brightness and sheen.

And, listening to The Journey Man, some of these elements of Goldie’s are still present. The album from end to end is characterized by clean, pristine production that faithfully renders each element (whether it be a vocal, a synth, or percussion) on a widescreen canvas. Goldie shifts styles throughout the album as well, going from his classic sounding soulful drum 'n' bass to some surprising detours into blues structures and jazzy textures.

At its best, The Journey Man has moments that are competitive with Goldie’s past highlights, like on “Prism” which hearkens back to his refined drum and bass sound, as well as "Tu Viens Avec Moi” and “The Ballad Celeste” which are aching takes on Stevie Wonder-influenced soul. “Tu Viens Avec Moi” features a wandering harmonica throughout that strikes a unique instrumental balance with the rest of the track, tying analog and digital threads together uniquely. “The Ballad Celeste” is sumptuous with Ibiza-type warmth and ends with a giggling child. In these songs we get a clear indication of the end of Goldie’s Journey -- we see that he’s come to a place of emotional wholeness. But we lack any implication of the rest of this journey. What did Goldie get through to be here?

Goldie’s life followed a quintessential rock-star timeline: hard work in the underground, a mainstream breakthrough, celebrity, drugs and sex, then the inevitable downturn. It’s fantastic that he’s been able to center himself and return to making music this ambitious, but The Journey Man seems to rest on its laurels too often to make a large impression. There’s little sense of conflict in this music and very little indication of any confessional quality that conveys any low points or misgivings that Goldie might have had along the way. And while it may not be his prerogative to make something so on the nose, the music contained here is too often simply pleasing without a rousing emotional component, any kind of catharsis (even through just sonics) is still sorely missing.

Moreover there is little innovation within these sounds: there isn’t a song on here that feels like it couldn’t have come out in the past decade or so. The album's continual use of clattering, busy beats with mellifluous synths and vocals can be found in so many place as well--just turn on the radio. The vocalists themselves are largely hit or miss, charting indistinct and anodyne readings of songs that don't intend to engage the listener as much as pass through them. So are almost perplexingly misguided, like "Mountain" or "Castaway", which lack the craft and technique that the rest of the vocal takes do.

In numerous interviews, Goldie has stated that this is only the first of many releases that he’s planning to undertake. If anything, one hopes he Goldie will engage with the present -- and all the ways that electronic music has morphed since 1995 -- for the next one, rather than simply reckoning with his own legacy. Maybe this is a necessary gesture for him in order to progress forward. Only time will tell.


Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.