Andy Stott, Brief Encounter/Drippin

[Modern Love]

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When LWE interviewed Shlom, manager of Manchester’s Modern Love imprint, he described Andy Stott as “one of the most musically hungry people I’ve ever met.” It’s an apt characterization of a producer who gobbles up dance music sub-genres and spits back potent hybrids with little concern for which camps might enjoy them. Last year’s Unknown Exception compilation capably documented his approach by collecting wide-ranging singles such as the serrated dub monster “The Massacre” and bass bin-rattler “”Handle With Care.” Stott and his fans have worked up quite an appetite for fresh material after all this looking back, but whether his first single of 2009, “Brief Encounter/Drippin,” will leave listeners satisfied is open for debate.

Both sides of the single pit rigid, more percussive elements against softer undercurrents to emphasize their contrasts. “Brief Encounter” does this better than its flipside: Stott pulls at the clamorous tones of its heavily affected piano ostinato, drawing them away from the site of impact like a vacuum hood sucks vapors away from a chemist’s workspace. Downshifting to showcase downy pads before a threadbare breakdown cleanses the palate, the track accelerates again to re-combine the disparate motifs. “Drippin” is dubstep in all but name, its flickering hi-hat hits cutting a chunky stepping form filled by grainy pads that linger. As in “Brief Encounter,” Stott changes his mind about the track’s trajectory and leaves a only wobbling bass line in charge of breathy accents and sporadic clipped vocals. Though the storm clouds return eventually to fill in conspicuously blank spaces, I wonder why he opted for such a disjointed variation of an otherwise enjoyable theme. Despite the strengths of “Brief Encounter,” Stott’s return to original productions feels somewhat unfinished and not quite filling — more like an appetizer. Hopefully the main course is next.

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