Six years after joining forces (sort of), the confusingly named Millie & Andrea, aka UK dub producer Andy Stott and Demdike Stare’s Miles Whittaker, finally get round to releasing a full-length album “borne from a love of both pop and club music,” Drop The Vowels.
Featuring eight tracks recorded separately at their respective Manchester and Berlin studios, the quick follow-up to January’s Stage 2 EP is unlikely to be gracing many dancefloors, despite the duo’s talk mainstream influences. Rather, it’s is a relentlessly dark, eerie and unsettling affair more likely to induce nightmares than any desire to bust a move.
Indeed, opener “GIF RIFF” may begin with a fairly innocuous sample of tribal singing, but it soon makes way for an ominous wave of clattering industrial percussion and ambient noise, and things only get more disquieting from then on.
The suitably-titled “Stay Ugly” compresses Stott’s signature droney techno so hard that it makes your speakers sound like they’re on the verge of a meltdown. “Corrosive” throws everything from 8-bit bleeps to menacing basslines to whirring helicopter effects into its hellish mix before unexpectedly bursting into an old-school slice of breakneck-speed jungle. Elsewhere, “Back Down” is a sinister seven-minute collage of buzzsaw synths, ghostly Gregorian chants and jacking house rhythms which sounds like early Enigma being attacked by an army of killer bees.
Even when Millie & Andrea abandon this brutal bass/beats approach, there’s still an overwhelming sense of doom, as on “Quay,” the atmospheric closer composed entirely of field recordings which initially paints a fairly serene picture until various unidentified grunts, crackles and rattles transform it into something altogether more post-apocalyptic.
Those of a nervous disposition would therefore be advised to give Millie and Andrea a wide berth. But if you like your dubby techno entirely pitch black, then Drop The Vowels might just be your album of the year.