b. Andrew Brooks, 1982, Derby, Derbyshire, England. Producer Brooks’ initial experiments in music making apparently involved making tapes ‘with Barbra Streisand cut over random weird stuff’. Despite this inauspicious start, Brooks was not discouraged and released his first track, ‘Electric Dance Machine’, on the DiY Discs compilation, 2922 Days, at the age of 16. Drawing on disco, micro-house and R&B and juxtaposing new wave’s glossy groove with a dextrous disco twirl, Brooks’ 2002 debut You, Me & Us was not a typical house album. The title track, written and performed with regular Matthew Herbert collaborator Dani Siciliano, initially sounded as if it was an affectionate and loving paean but actually turned out to be about obsession and self-mutilation. ‘Dripping In Gold’ mixed cynical and absurdist lyrics with a genuinely funky disco jam. Curiously, the album ebbed to a close with a strange trio of tracks that mixed bass clarinet, flute, flügelhorn and ‘air tubes’ with Brooks’ twisted beats.
Like Herbert (to whom he is regularly compared and not just because of his work with Siciliano), Brooks creates house music with an admirable inventiveness, a droll playfulness, and a slinky sense of joy. Lyrics such as ‘Jesus wants me for a sunbeam/The ninjas want me on their crack team/All this before I’m seventeen/Fingers crossed it’s all a bad dream’ (‘Dripping In Gold’) and ‘This season’s new black is the same as all the other names’ (‘Colour Me Bad’) are intended to eschew house music’s usual pre-occupations with drugs and/or spirituality. Rather, Brooks cites the influence of Brian Eno’s poetic solo recordings on his work, in addition to the work of kindred spirit Herbert. It was hardly surprising that Brooks next move was to sign a recording contract with Herbert’s Accidental Records label. The first fruits of the contract were the 2004 single ‘Do The Math’, which was backed by a strange cover version of PJ Harvey’s ‘Mansize’, and the attendant long-player Red Tape. Brooks has notably remixed Human League, Mint Royale, Clyde and Martini Bros.