Andy Stott: Luxury Problems (Modern Love)
UK producer Andy Stott continues to beguile with his latest offering on Boomkat’s Modern Love imprint. His previous 2 mini-LPs pushed him deep into darker waters when compared to his earlier output, and this one continues to sidestep expectations by adding some interesting developments to what’s becoming Stott’s signature sound of the moment. Stott’s crunchier productions lately remind me of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet — specifically that sequence in the first act where the camera zooms below the surface into the busy noise of ants in the dirt. It’s crunchy and earthy and murky… a seedy underbelly. On Luxury Problems, the most notable shift in sound is the inclusion of a vocalist on many tracks. This is not to say that Stott’s suddenly done an about-face into slick Luomo diva productions — Alison Skidmore’s voice is often looped, cut apart into phrases. Opener “Numb” is stark, beginning with fragmented pieces of her vocal a capella, until Stott drops a crunchy, thick arrangement underneath. By comparison, “Sleepless” is a chugging instrumental monster, writhing and contorting across its 6 minutes, while the title track that falls toward the end of the album is a repetitive, smoky house groove laden with reverb and Skidmore’s looping, breathy vocals — two definite highlights. The push and pull between Stott’s dark, sometimes murky but always spot-on tracks and Skidmore’s ethereal vocal snippets is really what composites the mood of this album, a healthy distinction from his previous repertoire. It’s not so much a change in direction as a welcome evolution. Andy Stott never fails to surprise and delight my ears.