Review Summary: Sweaty, dirty music made for a club from hell.Passed Me By
is deep. Andy Stott's most recent offering of minimal dub techno sounds absolutely massive yet almost uncomfortably intimate, the heavy bass of "North To South" bearing more than a passing resemblance to a subtly skipping heartbeat while the reverberant low end of "Execution" feels like a cavernous sonic void. Yet unlike Demdike Stare, Stott's labelmate on Modern Love and frequent point of comparison, this is also rhythmically intense stuff. There's atmosphere, of course - lots of it, in fact, occupying a distinctly dark headspace that will be familiar to anybody fortunate enough to have undergone a full listen to Tryptych
. But Stott exchanges some of Miles Whittaker and Sean Canty's masterful handling of occult themes for something a bit more danceable - "Dark Details", with its propulsive bass kicks and fitful sub bass, even has a BPM exceeding 130. Mind you, the track is something of an anomaly alongside the record's slower and more druggy tracks, despite obviously being cut from the same musical cloth; for over half of Passed Me By
's relatively short 33-minute runtime, Stott is content to dwell in the arresting ambience he has created, his seemingly bottomless beats providing a quietly shuffling pulse.
The approach works marvelously well, despite the occasional flashes of complacency on some of the album's longer tracks. Certainly, the singularity of Stott's vision makes those moments where he doesn't adhere entirely to formula that much more thrilling; "Intermittent" makes excellent use of orchestral samples and - get this - major chords
. It's a brief and welcome glimpse of sunshine in Passed Me By
's largely monochromatic palette, placed effectively at the midpoint of the album's tracklist. And while this isn't really melodically driven music, Stott has a knack for those haunting, unresolved chords that made Untrue
such a stunning listen, and while his deployment of vocal samples can seem a bit elementary, the aforementioned "Execution" benefits greatly from its irregular and clipped blasts of recognizably human
sounds...which Stott then proceeds to shroud in the irrepressibly gloomy environment. These songs are bleak, but not oppressively so, Lynchian in its melding of familiar elements of craft with grotesquery. It's tempting to label it as "primitive", what with that understatedly ominous cover art, but that undersells the album's strange immediacy, the way that these tracks feel absolutely familiar in spite of their grave otherworldliness. In this way, Passed Me By
shoots straight for that sweet spot subwoofers seem to directly resound through, far down into the inner regions of our bodies. It's deep.