Andy Stott – Luxury Problems (Modern Love)

‘Luxury Problems’ continues Andy Stott’s explorations into ‘knackered house’ and the outer limits of molten techno.  Those who haven’t yet experienced the flayed rawness of his previous two EPS ‘Passed Me By’ and ‘We Stay Together’ should do so without delay.  ‘Luxury Problem’ doesn’t quite have the same impact as these releases but manages to build on the previous work and suggest new avenues to pursue.

The best of this album is excellent and is amongst the best electronica of 2012.  Opener ‘Numb’ displays all of Stott’s masterful production skills.  It begins with a looped and chopped vocal sample that is folded, compressed, dropped into pools of echo and edited into soft hiccup-beats as a cold void of drone whistles in the background.  A fade into silence introduces a muffled machine press that violently imposes order for the rest of the track.  The whole thing is icily forbidding but captivating.
‘Sleepless’ is also great, a perfect showcase for his ‘knackered’ aesthetic; everything sounds degraded, burnt, and in some way compromised; as if every sound has been buried and dug up again a few weeks later.  The title track is another highlight, the House rhythm undermined by crackle, industrial scraping and a complete absence of the hedonism you would normally associate with the genre; this is House for abandoned oil rigs and haunted moon bases.
The rest of the album isn’t nearly so successful; ‘Lost and Found’, ‘Sleepless’ and ‘Expecting’ sound like sketches and don’t seem fully realised.  They lack any interesting arrangement and have none of the intricacy found in the better tracks.  Also, ‘Up the Box’ loops a stoned jungle break for a few minutes to no great effect.
‘Luxury Problems’ would have benefited from being an EP rather than a full-length but the best on here can only inspire further interest in Stott’s sand-blasted vision.

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