Friday, 24 February 2012
Review: Andy Stott - Passed Me By / We Stay Together
Another of my purchases while merrily cavorting in London-town last weekend, it simply does not get much more trendy and credible than Andy Stott's double EP salvo. An experimental ambient/dub techno sound released by Mancunian label Modern Love (who gave the world The Coldest Season) finally re-released in CD format in a gorgeous cardboard sleeved double pack, cover engorged with moody monochromatic photography of oppressed ethnic minorities. Oh yes. The guy behind the counter at Rough Trade nodded approvingly when I handed it over and commended me on a good purchase. I felt a warm glow inside, a sense of inclusion and belonging. Here I was, some bright-eyed boy from a parochial backwater being inducted into the inner circle of obscure trendster cliquedom. I felt an elitist thrill surge through me as I swaggered out into the chill night air. Is this, I thought, not what music is all about?
No. No it isn't. The reason I paid a slightly eye-watering £22 for this package has less to do with the wanker points I scored (guiltily pleasing though the transaction was) and more to do with the fact that I have to spend money in at least one independent record store every time I visit another big city, regardless of whether it's financially prudent or whether I really want any of the music available. You should have seen some of the shit I bought while I was in New York. Besides, these releases had recieved so much hype and adoration I'd been dying to hear them, and to see them on the shelf in front of me in a newly released CD double pack was an unexpected pleasure.
So... is Andy Stott any good? He's alright. Of the two EPs, Passed Me By is the more poststep/ambient and We Stay Together is a closer to a traditional dub techno thump. What sets Andy Stott apart from the billions of others doing these sounds right now is his remarkably unique sound design. The thick, dark, subterranean sound of everything in his music may not be particularly cheerful, but it's moody as hell and unlike just about everything else out there right now. This is very much dance music past the point of being danceable - this is a distant mutation of anything called techno or dubstep. Really, this is rhythmic ambient.
It's unfair to judge this is an album, because it's two EPs furnished with a couple of bonus tracks and sent out into the world. These are explorations of closely related ideas, and if Stott did release an album I'd hope he'd put a lot of thought into programming and structure that is obviously lacking a little when you play two EPs back to back. Of the two, my preference goes to We Stay Together, particularly the remarkably atmospheric and deep opener Submission. I can't honestly say this is some of my favourite music of 2011, but it's definitely amongst the most interesting.
Genre: Ambient/poststep/dub techno
Stupid Arbitrary Rating: Passed Me By - 7/10 ¦ We Stay Together - 8/10