When: Sun., March 10, 9 p.m. 2013
Over the past couple years, Manchester producer Andy Stott has edged away from the dub- and techno-leaning clubs that once hung his flyers and started sneaking in through the back doors of dancing-optional indie venues partial to ambient drone, slowed-down experimental electro, and cheap domestic beer in cans. Whether or not it’s a permanent change remains to be seen, but Stott is dialed in on his new turf, looping and texturing his beats to create stark, organic washes of sound that don’t rely nearly so much on the old thwump-thwump. For last year’s Luxury Problems (Modern Love), he enlisted the help of his former piano teacher, Alison Skidmore, whom he hadn’t seen since he was a teenager, and her hypnotic singing plays an integral part on the album from the get-go. “Numb” opens with her ghostly vocals gently accumulating in layers with each cycle of the underlying rhythm, while a light drone swells and then cuts out to make way for what sounds like a chunky, slo-mo helicopter rotor. The track’s strange, haunting feel is an apt introduction to an album that also includes the eight-minute “Expecting,” whose dirgelike rumbling and billows of noise acquire a tempo from faint clinks and clanks, an occasional kick-drum pulse, and what could be a sonar ping being drowned. If Stott is only on the lip of his rabbit hole now, he’d be well advised to jump in.
There seems to be a very fine line between deep house music for VIP rooms full of stiletto heels and deep house music for unlicensed lofts full of Vice magazine fashion plates—as far as I can tell, the only difference is that the latter comes mostly from Brooklyn. Brooklyn-based Michael Bouldry-Morrison (aka Octo Octa) makes house with plenty of the usual ethereal keyboard chords, plus lots of sampled R&B-style vocal sighs and dark melodies that sound like they belong in a Passion Pit single. But he also tiptoes toward the experimental—his faux-tribal drum accents often sound like they’re pulling the track out of tempo but never quite do it. He’s good at calling up a certain sweaty swagger that’s just as well suited to bedazzled designer dresses as it is to cleverly configured haircuts, and I expect his upcoming album, Between Two Selves (100% Silk), will keep digging that vein. —Kevin Warwick