Manchester producer, Andy Stott, has always explored the ideas of breaking down the boundaries of post-punk and, indeed, club music.
Once again working alongside Alison Skidmore, Stott‘s former piano teacher and the voice behind his breakthrough album, Luxury Problems, she provides a murky pop juxtaposition to Stott‘s tunnel-like drones and incongruous beats that stray towards the edges of the dance floor.
Stott‘s 2016’s long-player, Too Many Voices, felt like an underwhelming follow-up to the landmark Faith In Strangers, where Stott took the ideas of slow-motion tech-house to its peak.
‘Voices was a mash-up of ideas and with the benefit of hindsight, one could argue that it touches on the ideas of conceptronica before it was even a thing. Going back to it and it doesn’t feel like the misstep it was portrayed as at the time.
And that ‘s the thing with Stott. He has been one of the most influential figures in electronic music since the turn of the century, operating comfortably in the shadows. His music takes time and effort – something many of us don’t afford ourselves these days.
Stott‘s double EP, 2019’s It Should Be With Us, continued the journey through the dark tunnels Stott has spent the last 15 years boring through and with Never the Right Time, he gleans from the best moments of his past. Alongside Skidmore, the pair provide a package of broody sound collages that continue to deconstruct the fundamentals of post-punk and club music.
Stott guides us into his world with Away Not Gone, a breezy, ambient drone cut with Skidmore‘s abstract melodies setting the tone. Where openers are concerned, Stott has always thrown curve-balls and he doesn’t stop here.
The machine-gun-beats of the title track and The Beginning reach for that intensity Stott captured alongside Miles Whittaker as Millie & Andrea on Drop the Vowels. Throbbing bass and melodies that slice through endless layers of glitch.
Repetitive Strain is like a pop rendition of early dubstep from the likes of Burial while Answers plunges deeper into the abyss of Will Bevan‘s first two releases. If anything, it’s electronic music’s answer to no-wave.
Then there’s Don’t Know and Dove Stone, which sees Stott immersing himself in the darkest corners that he has always inhabited. Dirge-laden, down-tempo hymns reminiscent of the Stott‘s earlier works, namely We Stay Together. Particularly on the former, as Stott pits rolling waves of gloom against Skidmore‘s sombre melodies.
Never the Right Time may be treading over old ground to a degree, but – if anything – it’s Stott refining his creations of the past and in a time where the world is slowly emerging from the shadows of the COVID-19 pandemic in search of some level of normality, it feels like a record very much for these times. A vigilant stride towards a world that flickers with new light.
Never the Right Time is out now via Modern Love. Purchase here.