Formerly operating under the name Al Tourettes, London-based artist Alec Storey began creating music as Second Storey in 2013 with his Margosa Heights EP. The four-track release confidently marked the addition of yet another talent to Houndstooth's impressive and ever-increasing roster, and now he's returned to the Fabric-housed label with his new LP, Double Divide.
Given that Houndstooth recently issued Call Super's feverishly well-received Suzi Ecto, one could be concerned that Double Divide runs the danger of living in that album's shadow. However, such worries are quickly subdued, as the initial synth lines of LP opener "North Facing" set the tone for a record that quickly proves to be both rich and complex in equal measure. There are contrasts on display here; Double Divide often presents atmospheric soundscapes before swiftly moving on to functional club works. Still, a delightfully infectious rhythm ties the entire LP together and Storey's influences are on display throughout. The first notes of "Combustion Hallmark" reference Bernard Parmegian, whilst the rest of the track could feasibly have been lifted from the cutting room floor of Objekt's studio. Meanwhile, the murky kickdrum of "Shaman Champagne" gives a nod to Neil Landstrumm. Machine-driven funk and full-bodied low tones are the lynchpins of this record, providing a driving forward momentum throughout.
Things turn slightly frantic towards the end of the album, with "Trope" in particular grabbing the listener's attention with a barrage of high keys before the entire thing comes to an abrupt stop and the twisted vocal of the penultimate track emerges. Final track "Chordelia" is perhaps the weakest song on offer here, as it lacks the focus and tightness that is so apparent elsewhere. That said, the change of pace does nicely bookend the more dancefloor-ready material contained within Double Divide's middle, even if "Chordelia" doesn't quite match the quality of the record's opening salvo.