Glasgow-based electronic producer Auntie Flo (real name Brian D’Souza) has been building up a significant profile over the last few years, with links to that city’s hallowed Optimo duo, regular appearances at London’s Fabric and 12” releases on labels including Highlife and Permanent Vacation. Three years on from his acclaimed 2012 mini-album ‘Future Rhythm Machine’, this latest release on UK label Huntleys & Palmers ‘Theory Of Flo’ finally offers up his ‘proper’ debut album. While African music has always exerted a heavy influence upon Flo’s dancefloor-centred productions though, ‘Theory Of Flo’ makes the connection even more vivid by casting Ghanaian vocalist and Optimo associate Anbuley in the collaboration spotlight on six of the ten tracks here. The instrumental contributions of guests including Hidden Orchestra’s Poppy Ackroyd on strings and Red Snapper’s Richard Thair on drums also add a new level of textural breadth and visceral energy here that’s a definite step forward from Flo’s preceding work.
Opening track ‘Su La’ kicks things off with a featherlight house pulse, Anbuley’s vocals entering alongside a shimmering backdrop of melodic synths, before things suddenly lock down into Thair’s fluid drum breaks and delicate clavinet runs add an undertone of soulfulness to the almost hypnotic cycling electronic textures. If it’s a suitably gentle and wide-eyed opening that hints at power beneath the surface, ‘Waiting For A (Woman)’ sees muted bass drums tracing an insistent tribal pulse as Anbuley’s vocals trail against a backdrop of stark brooding synths and filtered background ambience, the appearance of stately frigid keys evoking an atmosphere that suggests shades of early period New Order towards the end.
‘Dance Ritual I’ meanwhile has a far closer kinship to the likes of Caribou or Four Tet as a loose percussion loop rolls against jangling instrumentation and phased synths, the addition of 808 drum sounds adding a rattling electro edge to the rolling African percussion and Anbuley’s looped vocal chants. It’s closing track ‘For Mihaly’ that perhaps offers up this album’s most stunning moment though as melancholic European strings build in intensity over dry, rattling off-step house rhythms. An impressive debut album proper that promises to seal Auntie Flo’s already sterling reputation even further.