6/21/17 – Andy Stott “Luxury Problems” (2012)

This was my my introduction to Andy Stott and I’m ashamed I haven’t kept up with his other work since that first listen in 2012. It left quite an impression on me and was in my head for a while that year. His sound is an Electronic/Techno/Ambient mix, with deep and dark basses and murky atmospheres. “Repetition” is the key word on this album, and he’s really not afraid to loop a sample nonstop for the entirety of a song. In a lot of ways it’s much like Raime’s Quarter Turns Over A Living Line (2012) which I reviewed here, but one of the most obvious differences is vocalist Alison Skidmore. She sings with a deep and theatrical voice, giving the music a big sense of space. I don’t normally listen to music that her voice would fit in normally, so it took some time for her to grow on me.

Luxury Problems starts off with Numb, a song heavy on Alison Skidmore’s vocals. The word “touch” is repeated ad nauseam, and layer upon layer of her voice is piled on top. If it weren’t for the ominous ambient drone and the anxious beat, this would be a quite heavenly song. That dichotomy is present in every song here, some tracks it’s more stark than others. Skidmore’s voice is often chopped up to the point where only one noise or word is uttered at a time, never really forming complete thoughts or ideas. The looping ambience and sounds that feel field recorded help out the impressionistic vibe a little bit. Stott plays with Skidmore’s voice all over this album- cutting, looping, and distorting, but Sleepless is when he takes it another step. Several pitch shifted samples of Skidmore’s voice keep interrupting each other as this heavy, thick beat pulses on. It’s a pretty weird track but it might be my favorite on this album.

The dark, brooding, choking atmosphere is grown slowly over the album, picking up pace notably on the second half. Expecting is nearly all dark ambience, completely gloomy but still alive and moving. Luxury Problems has the grooviest beat so far on the album, and I really love how he uses this short, bright, and loud sample a handful of times. It sounds lifted straight from another song but I can’t identify it. Up The Box breaks halfway in and goes straight for dark and disturbing Techno, and in a way is like Andy Stott’s solo. It’s unlike the rest of the album and it’s a welcome change of pace. The closer brings in some deep synths that compliment Alison Skidmore’s voice remarkably well. With how much he uses repetition, it’s a wonder that every song feels completely different, and I think that’s what kept me coming back to this album again and again. Check this and his other albums out if you haven’t already.

 

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