Release Date: Nov 18, 2014
Record label: Modern Love
Genre(s): Electronic, Techno, Experimental Techno
On his earlier releases, Manchester producer Andy Stott mirrored his city's gloomy industrial heritage with dark, clanging sounds immersed in murkily clouded dub techno. And then something happened: Stott contacted his old piano teacher Alison Skidmore to contribute vocals to his 2012 album, Luxury Problems. The collaboration helped Stott take a significant leap forward by opening up some lighter shades and striking new textures into his music.On his followup solo album (he also released an album this year with labelmate Miles Whittaker under the moniker Millie & Andrea), Stott made a complete transition from digital to almost entirely analog gear, making Faith in Strangers a real labour of love.
Ever since We Stay Together, when his considered dub techno gave way to a more abstract and grinding sound, listening to Andy Stott has been a bit like picking a scab or poking a bruise: it hurts so good. His trio of Modern Love releases in 2011 and 2012, which culminated in the universally lauded Luxury Problems, assaulted the senses like little else that's even tangentially related to the dance floor. As good as it was, though, the aesthetic felt a bit like house music passed through a filter—if you could calculate the precise coefficients, you could theoretically reverse the effects of Stott's brutal processing and arrive back at relatively straightforward 4/4.
Andy Stott must thrive in limbo. For much of the last decade, the Manchester producer shifted restlessly between varied electronic niches. He darted from spartan techno to luxuriating dub and so on, releasing singles with the enthusiasm of a keen listener trying to stake his own artistic identity. In 2011, he claimed that place with unapologetic if muted audacity, issuing two immersive EPs within four months.
Sure, there are beats on Andy Stott’s new album, Faith in Strangers. Heck, there are shimmering moments when you might even be tempted to call Stott’s work dub step(ish). (Or trip-hopish. Or Jungleish.) But don’t mistake drop-heavy for dance-inducing. The Manchester-based producer’s fourth ….
Ambient music doesn’t tend to play the singles game. Certainly not anymore, anyway, now that digital ease and convenience has driven the single’s commodity form into the margins of merch tables, boutique labels, and limited releases. A subtly diverse subgenre based on patient, enveloped listening occupies these territories, of course. Modern Love, the Manchester label Andy Stott calls home, certainly does, if the wealth of 12-inches he’s released there in less than ten years is any indication.
The severed edges and perforated design of Andy Stott’s music has a lineage that goes far beyond his 10-year back catalog. It’s difficult to trace, and it can often appear to be misleading, but the texture he assimilates through his sound is what shapes its identity. Whatever that texture might substantiate — call it grit, grime, smudge, cacophony — it brings out the subtleties and the fetishes that undulate beneath every beat and simmer at the cusp of every fade, making each one of his albums a departure from what came before while faithfully adhering to the lineage that makes his work so distinct.
Going by the vaguely threatening black-and-white Herbert Matter image used for the cover, Andy Stott must be up to his old sinister tricks on Faith in Strangers. Indeed, none of the nine tracks on his third proper album could be described as radiant or zesty. They're duly eldritch, similar in feeling to the producer's 2011-2012 releases. No sound is particularly soothing.
When Manchester electronic producer Andy Stott first started out in the early 2000s, he shuffled his way through house singles, minimal techno, and heavier dub. Somewhere between 2006 and 2011, he began to form a sense of musical identity; on his Passed Me By and We Stay Together EPs, he honed in on something darker than his indecisive first experiments. Stott was letting his brow hang low, casting a shadow over his hands while they worked.
Opening on glacial chords that echo Brian Eno's ambient work, the latest by U.K. electronic magician Andy Stott cooks down the abstract beauty of his 2012 LP Luxury Problems to a new minimalism. Which isn't to say it's sleepy, or comforting. On "Violence," sidekick Alison Skidmore intones "clap your hands" over uneasy melody and menacing beats; "Damage" evokes a sheet-metal assault.
Being pushed into the spotlight on the back of Luxury Problems’ critical acclaim was an unlikely place for Andy Stott to end up. For nearly a decade, the Manchester-based producer made music that dwelled most comfortably in murk—dub techno that softly knocked and rolled, as though echoing from six concrete floors down. With 2011’s Passed Me By and We Stay Together, Stott solidified a musical voice that was nearly subliminal, its deep, undulating bass and gritty factory hisses hitting almost entirely at a hypnagogic level.
opinion byBRENDAN FRANK It’s fitting that techno/dub/ambient producer Andy Stott’s album covers are black and white photographs. The unembellished, drab mechanizations in his songs conjure images of oddly colourless settings, where light and heat are at a premium. At the surface, there’s little warmth to the industrial clangour found within every corner of Faith In Strangers, yet it feels like it has originated from a place that’s very real.
Manchester dubstep/electronic artist Andy Stott has moved farther from the austere in this fourth full-length, continuing to push his brainy, rhythmically abrasive sound towards a dreamier, more melodic place. That’s partly due to the continued participation of Alison Skidmore, Stott’s former piano teacher, who made her debut on 2012’s Luxury Problems. Here she breathes a hushed, tremulous, organic softness into Stott’s cerebral structures, reinforcing a tendency towards more real world sounds and less computer chill.
A long public back story shouldn’t eclipse the pleasures of Azealia Banks’s debut album, “Broke With Expensive Taste,” which she released suddenly online on Nov. 6. Yes, she has been announcing the album since 2012. Yes, she has been signed to and dropped from a major label, Interscope ….
Andy Stott loves listening to tunes in cars. "For me, it's perfect when I'm driving on my own somewhere," he concedes, "where I really get to pay attention to music." He's right too, of course. £100,000 PA systems and Beats By Dre be damned; there is nothing quite like jostling a few screws loose with a car stereo, and the visceral tingle of sympathetically vibrating upholstery from a low-end roller.
Andy Stott — Faith in Strangers (Modern Love)The evocative, monochrome artwork that adorns every Andy Stott release for Modern Love is like a mirror for the stripped-down, minimalist brand of dance music that the Manchester-based producer distills. However, this only tells a part of the story of an artist in constant evolution, drawing together strands of music both dance floor-orientated and otherwise to create his own vision of electronica. 2012’s Luxury Problems felt like a conclusion, or at least a crystallization, of all the influences that had fueled Andy Stott, from Joy Division to dubstep, resulting in a perfectly-formed capsule of Northern English dance, and left us grateful listeners wondering where he could go next.