Andy Stott emerged in 2011 with his LP Passed Me By. From his entrance into the world of electronic music, it was clear that this is a DJ who refuses classification. His music flips from primal dance to tribal techno to twitchy dubstep. With ethereal vocals from Alison Skidmore peppered in, this mix is dark and beautiful. No longer testing out the waters, on November 17, Stott released his newest collection of music, Faith in Strangers.
Stott’s style is lithe and looming. It’s dark, but in constant motion. These tracks are certainly driving, but while you may be unsure of where, Stott is not. This nature may make his music superficially inaccessible for some, but—if desired—crisp, straightforward melodies can be located for almost all of the tracks.
Songs such as “How It Was” and “Damage” pack a punch so unearthing, that the mix descends to a low fidelity range, accompanied by a feedback buzz. This is Stott’s intention to challenge the listener and embrace the sloppy nature of electronics that a lesser musician would try to filter out. Stott accepts and works with the shortcomings of tenuous electronics and voices. More than that, he takes these noises and curates them into
“Missing” is an eerie tune that creeps its way through bass plucks and dissonant screeches. This is Stott’s most unsettling track on the record. The title track “Faith in Strangers” is an oddly accessible single. The melody is catchy and not alarming and Skidmore delivers discernable lyrics rather than off-kilter moans and sighs. It’s groovy lounge music, but with Stott’s signature sound.
“No Surrender” emerges with loud, tinny swirls that stand for about a minute. Then the song shifts, as the thick bass splats in. This track is followed by the danceable “How It Was”, which features mechanical grinds and gasps. This is music that should feel dead, rather than the live, verdant mess that it is.
And it is a mess. Many of tracks seem to lack the focus of his 2012 LP Luxury Problems. Tonally, the organization is jarring as well. Stott is an impressive electronic polyglot, but the curation of his music is vertiginous—it pulls the listener in opposite directions. Light and dark, dancing and idling, nature and mechanics—all fight their battles here. Due to the confusing direction, it’s hard to tell which wins. Despite this, Faith in Strangers is a solid release. Stott’s music is colder than ever, with blistering bass lines and frigid percussion and he’s certainly not pandering to audiences seeking accessibility. But he is refining his signature craft and makes wintry, unsettling dance music more appealing than ever.
By Mitchell McCluskey