[Modern Love; 2012]

2011 was a banner year for Andy Stott. The Mancunian producer released two critically lauded, game-changing EPs that affixed UK garage-esque R&B leanings to a choked, sweaty, zombie-waltz take on dub techno, the animal-brained, hyper-compressed kick barely rousing above a 100 BPM quake. It was a sound that became an immediate trend in other realms of dub techno and English dance music and saw Stott singlehandedly reinvigorate the upper echelons of UK techno. But on “Numb,” the first track from his upcoming LP Luxary Problems, Stott has seemingly turned the page on what he started with Passed Me By and We Stay Together.

Luxary Problems features five collaborative tracks with Stott’s piano teacher and vocalist, Alison Skidmore, whom he reunited with not having seen her since he was a teenager. “Numb” could well be just an intro to something more recognizable as Stott’s, but the cut sees the Englishman constructing something downright gentle (at first at least) and beautiful. Skidmore’s vocals are used to a textural, hypnotic effect, her slivered whispers chopped into ever-decaying, overlapping repetition while a lather of monochrome synths starts to rise. Near the track’s midpoint a cycling, sub-bass throb intrudes and hints of a disruptive low end creeps beneath the silvery recesses of the track. The song hints at a direction that could potentially mean crossover status for Stott. He’s certainly laid the groundwork for such a move. There are hints at UK bass’s adoption of vocal-lead dynamics, but Stott remains firmly entrenched in a universe all his own. Whatever Luxary Problems might bring, “Numb” is a fantastic track.

Luxary Problems is out October 30th on Modern Love.