- Goldie is one of electronic music's most important artists. Few have reached the heights he did in the '90s, helping invent drum & bass and finding mainstream success in the process. He's since remained one of the scene's leading lights, acting as a bridge between the purists and those more inclined to crossover. He helped push drum & bass into new frontiers with albums like Timeless and Saturnz Return. He became an actor, a visual artist, a reality TV star, an orchestra conductor and, as of last year, an MBE. Though Goldie still DJs, he hasn't released an album since 2007, as Rufige Kru. The Journey Man is, in reality, his first full-length in 19 years, one that returns to the lengthy compositions, pop aspirations and broad emotional strokes of his '90s work. As a double album that runs almost two hours long, with audacious samples and vocalists on most tracks, The Journey Man stirs memories of the peaks and the nadirs of Goldie's '90s discography.
Goldie calls The Journey Man the "big brother" of 1995's Timeless, one of that decade's most famous electronic LPs. Though the album adopts the all-encompassing style that made Timeless a genre-transcending classic, its most exciting moments are its most familiar. When the drums land on the opener, "Horizons," with vocals from Terri Walker and horn arrangements from Swindle, it's like reconnecting with an old friend.
Rather than a particular sound, Goldie's signature is polish. (He's always relied on others to help him perfect his music, and he often refers to himself as a director rather than a producer.) The straight-up drum & bass tunes are as well-produced as any in his catalogue, elegant and fast without feeling aggressive. The problem with The Journey Man is that there aren't enough of them. The slow songs—and there are many—only reveal the limits of his songwriting. "The Ballad Celeste" and "This Is Not A Love Song" are average adult contemporary-style ballads. They kill the goodwill inspired by some of the album's weirder moments, like "Tu Viens Avec Moi?," a cover of a Pat Metheny song with inspired guitar playing and interplay between instruments. Its earnestness captures the crossover instinct that made Goldie a superstar in the '90s.
And this wouldn't be a Goldie album without a prog rock-sized centrepiece. The 18-minute "Redemption" starts out like an "Inner City Life" redux before pivoting to techno, a move that feels natural thanks to a sample of Galaxy 2 Galaxy's "Hi-Tech Jazz," which connects drum & bass to Detroit. It's the one true moment of surprise on The Journey Man, the best proof of the visionary that Goldie can still be.
It's easy to see the similarities between The Journey Man and Timeless. Both put drum & bass on a pedestal above the dance floor and combine the genre with other kinds of music. But the record that The Journey Man more closely resembles is Saturnz Return, an overstuffed double album with a 60-minute long opening track. What The Journey Man most clearly captures is that taste for excess and self-indulgence. It's the work of an elder statesman who still has a special touch, but who doesn't know when to stop himself.
01. Horizons feat. Swindle
05. The Mirrored River
06. I Adore You feat. Natalie Williams (Goldie vs. Ulterior Motive)
07. I Think Of You
08. Truth feat. José James
10. Tu Viens Avec Moi?
11. The Ballad Celeste
12. This Is Not A Love Song
13. The River Mirrored
15. Tomorrow's Not Today
16. Run, Run, Run