Andy Stott: Faith In Strangers (Modern Love, 2014)

November 16, 2014 at 4:39 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Andy Stott: Faith In Strangers

Andy Stott: Faith In Strangers

Andy Stott’s Luxury Problems album from 2012 was truly an eye-opener, taking the “knackered house” sound he’d been developing and transforming it into something more otherwordly, with angelic vocals and a few harsh jungle breakbeats. His newest effort, Faith In Strangers, goes even further leftfield in several more directions, and is even more fascinating. When “Violence” first started making the rounds online, I was immediately in love, and at this point it’s probably my favorite song of the year. It starts out sparse with hushed vocals and alarming distorted synth tones, and then when the beat hits a few minutes into it, it just swarms and gets really powerful. Completely addictive. And of course, the rest of the album doesn’t sound quite like it, but it also uses space and ambience and distortion and ethereal vocals and harsh beats and bass in different combinations and almost always ends up with something thoroughly engrossing. “Time Away” starts the album with a simple-enough drone to set the mood, but after “Violence”, “On Oath” shifts through skeletal, clanging beats and lunging bass tones, and more faint, echoing vocals. “Science & Industry” adds some vintage drum machine beats, adding a minimal-wave pulse, along with more clanging beats, bass tones and gorgeous vocals. “No Surrender” starts with a metallic cascade of distorted synth chords, and after this dissolves into chiming sounds, the track REALLY begins, with severely blown-out bass and mutilated, slurred, mushed-up breaks, taking the “diseased” sound of his previous works to new levels. “How It Was” brings Stott back to the “knackered house” sound he was exploring a few years ago, with a corroded 4/4 beat and sickly, muffled bass. “Damage” sounds like Stott’s fractured take on grime, with lurching beats and distorted bass pings shooting straight into the gutter. “Faith In Strangers” is the most accessible, poppy song on the album, with post-punk bass guitar, a sprightly tempo, a bit brighter synths (but still a bit dark and gloomy) and ghostly-yet-catchy vocals. “Missing” ends the album with another dark, funereal dirge, with hollowed-out bass guitar emanating from a distance and some faint chiming synth sounds, and shadowy vocals reminiscent of Zola Jesus’ background vocals. A truly wondrous albm, confounding expecations even from his previous diversions into unknown territory, and the second brilliant album Stott’s released this year (the other being Millie & Andrea’s Drop The Vowels, which explored jungle/juke permutations and was more dancefloor-focused).

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