|Album Review: John Digweed & Nick Muir – The Traveler|
John Digweed, Nick Muir, John Twelve Hawks
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There are some projects that you just know are dangerous in the best way possible, usually composed at those out of the way places in secret. And they just jolt through you even if the musical build-up is slow, full of mechanical method and precision. New John Digweed and Nick Muir collaboration The Traveler LP seemingly came out of nowhere and the creation of it reads almost like a sci-fi novel itself within the fast-paced electronic music industry. Genre author John Hawks wrote his Traveler trilogy while listening to the UK producer’s music and contacted him out of the blue to collaborate.
It was that moment in the futuristic plot where the protagonist receives an encrypted message that can take years to come to fruition, in this case seven. The repetition of his phrase, “off the grid,” used frequently in the trilogy and throughout the album is interesting in regards to his personal beliefs about the intrusion of privacy in the modern state. He lives what he writes and has assumed a secret identity. He simply disappeared once his voice had been recorded over the tracks and has only had limited communications with the producers since.
Spoken word is usually reserved for hip-hop, but in The Traveler passages were read aloud directly from the novel. But this is sci-fi poetry and was lived out by those who created it. The tracks themselves have a quiet intensity, flowing through in a traditional soundtrack form but there is still something different. Fans of John Hawks will avidly listen to the album and already know the stories by heart, but surprisingly I found myself able to follow it.
Opening track “Maya,” throws us into the album full speed, with a tribal influenced beat that then ventures into industrial synths. It is an intense sci-fi anthem with the passage, “The average person working in London will be photographed by 300 surveillance cameras during the day,” to enhance the soundtrack element.
Title track, “The Traveler” is another standout on the album and offers the story itself in musical form, repeating throughout that, “He was the traveler,” to give the listener an idea of where the protagonist in the novel is going. It almost has a spinning effect with those mechanical elements until it eventually circles out.
“Battle,” possesses the darkest sound and production on The Traveler, with evil-sounding distortion and deep, bassy synths. It is the climax to the novel in non-linear form where the fate of the protagonist will ultimately be decided.