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Luxury Problems

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Andy Stott

Luxury Problems

12" LP

Availability: In stock


Quick Overview

Following on from a pair of extended players released in 2011 (Passed Me By/We Stay Together) Andy Stott returns to Modern Love with Luxury Problems, an eight-track album of new material recorded over the last 12 months. Five of the tracks on the album feature the voice of Alison Skidmore, Andy's one-time piano teacher whom he hadn't seen since he was a teenager back in 1996. There was no grand gesture in mind, it just sort of happened -- but after almost a year of studio work, the result is really quite unlike anything you'll have heard from him before. "Numb" opens the album with Alison's voice; layered and looped, but essentially left bare and exposed, tumbling into a dense shuffle, sort of somewhere between Theo Parrish and Sade, but more fucked. "Lost and Found" follows and deploys a growling rave bass line and a disturbed vocal, the beat assembling itself around a squashed Linndrum like a submerged Prince/Cameo production, haunted and impenetrable, but full of funk. "Sleepless" started life as an African drum edit that sooner or later succumbed to Stott's intense rhythmic shifts. It's a sound that's been imitated countless times since the release of Passed Me By, here re-tooled and re-built for its next evolutionary phase. "Hatch the Plan" ends the first half of the album with some heavily treated location recordings and a low-end grind that probably doesn't quite prepare you for the vocal arrangements that follow -- it's just a beautifully inverted pop song. The second half opens with "Expecting," the most recognizably "Stott" moment on the album: a wrecked, deliriously knocked-out 4/4 shuffle deployed at half-speed; those heavy kick drums sucking in everything around them. "Luxury Problems" offers up the album's most quietly euphoric moment; conventional arrangements and drum loops are disrupted by sharp disco bursts that mess with what you know: it's straight and beautiful and unbalanced and damaged, somehow all at once. "Up the Box" fucks with the narrative and goes somewhere else entirely, an extended intro that seems to build continuously for 3 minutes before breaking off into a slowed-down amen edit, creating a kind of narcotic jungle variant that fragments everything and ends just at the point you think it's going to go off, before "Leaving" finishes the album with an almost unbearably-beautiful arrangement of voice and synth and a final key-change that takes you from joyful to forlorn in an instant. Mastered and cut by Matt Colton at Air Studios.


Despite being significantly more ambient and less knotty than Andy Stott's 2011 releases, which were combined and expanded that December for Passed Me By/We Stay Together, Luxury Problems is nearly as spine-chilling. Its rhythms are fluid more often than coagulated, and there's an additional human element granted by the voice of opera-trained singer Alison Skidmore. The sense of intimacy is present from the opening "Numb," beginning with a looped intonation of "touch," a fragment of which takes the role of hi-hat before an industrial-sounding thrum -- something like a mechanical malfunction -- enters as a four-four beat. It's dark ambient, industrial techno, and trip-hop all at once. The hard-churning "Sleepless" stomps and grieves with sampled voices volleying distraught phrases: "You left me" (male), "You faked it" (female). The title song possesses a rhythm as sleazy as that of anything by Matias Aguayo or Matthew Dear; the sound of Skidmore's voice is so hushed and echoed that the words could be taken as a come-on or a warning, with sudden gasps and breaths signifying either anticipation or terror (or both). Toward the end, the album takes a pair of contrasting, thrilling turns. "Up the Box" begins with three minutes of rustling percussion that gradually intensify prior to dissipating into a short sequence of blips and unfurling the deathless "Amen" break in atypically slow motion. Then, on the closing "Leaving," somewhere between minimal wave and the Cocteau Twins' Victorialand, strings are reduced to vapor and drift through plangent two-note keyboard riffs and Skidmore's elegiac vocal. In its own less-alien way, Luxury Problems is just as brilliant as what preceded it.

Additional Information

Artist Andy Stott
Track Listing 1 Numb - 6:30 2 Lost and Found - 6:06 3 Sleepless - 5:49 4 Hatch the Plan - 8:39 5 Expecting - 7:55 6 Luxury Problems - 5:03 7 Up the Box - 5:00 8 Leaving - 3:42

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