What makes divinity? Is there a God behind God, besides our own minds? And if so, what’s behind that? And behind that? Must we accept that some things just are? And if not, might we consider the throbbing melodies of Andy Stott‘s Luxury Problems to be a new form of life (especially if we are extremely high)? Certainly the thick beats drip with the organic pulse of natural systems. Yet the sounds here also bear the beautifully decayed aura of concrete and chrome, halogen and grime—the soul of a heaving, monstrous city at twilight, equal (yet often struggling) parts fragile light and enclosing darkness.
The desperate atmosphere of opener “Numb” sucked my breath away, the rhythmic bass chug an insistent push of pressure squeezing my heart. The wings and pistons of some vast angelic engine straining as the skies open up in a choir of light. Something is born—a throbbing heartbeat, vocals refracting asexually like a blues siren out of time. Then the deeper pitch of the vocals signals another act of creation: Time To Fuck. Ears fill with muffled ketamine-house, a nightmare of an hallucinogenic orgasm erupting pearl-hot in cramped spaces. A harrowing train ride across the void beside a stranger, whispered affections and affected whispers. Lights streaming past.
You are never at ease.
Sleepy, ambiguous vocals beckon with half-understood promises. The mind is lost on a vast, sable sea that reflects an infinity of broken disco-ball stars. A hard spiral of breakbeats brings disconcertion, only to emerge into light once more. Yet the dread of the future remains in the looming, heavy synthlines that skitter away into nothingness. If Luxury Problems has a fault, it’s that it often feels like that nothingness lurks behind most of the production: that the songs have none of the meaning I’ve ascribed to them. They just… are. Yet they are beautifully, and absorbingly, so don’t be turned off by that statement. Maybe you’ll find your own meaning, or maybe it doesn’t matter. Because this is a gorgeous album, and that always means something.
Published November 16, 2012. Words by Daniel Jones.