The other day, a good friend of mine reached out to me and said, “I checked Your EDM and couldn’t find anything on Andy Stott’s latest album. Do you have anything on that?” At the time, that was the first moment I had ever heard of the dub and techno producer from Manchester. Caught off guard, I realized after a quick search into our site’s archives that we have never covered anything on Andy Stott. I told my friend of the news and he was shocked. His dismay left me curious with who Andy Stott is and where he comes from musically. I was turned to the direction of Faith In Strangers, Andy’s fourth studio album that ventures into an ambient journey through minimalistic techno and shifting bass.
The album’s kick off is a slow boat ride into a lulling trance called “Time Away”. Melancholy foghorns trespass into the wandering mind of listeners pulling us away from the everyday. This song foreshadows the mood and energy this LP will abandon the listeners with while leaving a sense of awe behind its wake. It creeps into tracks like “Violence” and “On Oath” which begin to break into tempered basslines and eerie vocals (provided by Andy’s former piano teacher Alison Skidmore). Although it sounds foreign to the typical EDM head, there lies a certain polished beauty in the dark environment Faith In Strangers delivers.
The next tune “Science & Industry” seems to change the rhythm into an upbeat persuasion. It has yet to shake the foundation the album has set for itself relishing in the hanging limbo of it all, but “No Surrender” offers that change with bigger drums and a strong diversion from its predecessors. It’s a big leap for Andy and this departure embellishes more technics that we continue to see in “How It Was” that blend previous elements combining the vocal chops with rambunctious dub. The album appears to keep itself tame excusing its short outbursts here and there. Then you have the song “Damage”.
The seventh song on the album comes in and wreaks a whole new level of havoc. In its reverberating basslines and scattered sweeps, Andy Stott creates something ideal to Hudson Mohawkes‘ “Chimes” without the music festival design. Sharp, vicious, and unapologetic, “Damage” is the crowning achievement of Faith In Strangers utilizing a furious tempo and reluctant brevity.
Andy begins to fare his audience farewell with the eponymous song. Reintroducing Skidmore’s singing and introducing guitar riffs, “Faith In Strangers” tones down the amplified rhythm and it continues to wane into “Missing” that presents an exit as similar as our entrance into this LP. The strumming guitar and innocuous beeps are joined with light violin symphony concluding this haunting odyssey once and for all.
Although this album offers variety in between songs and grade A composition, we run into the issue of this LP’s replayability. Aside from “Damage”, the experimentation of this album does bring good attention to the album, but leaves lackluster nostalgia in terms of returning for more than one listen. This is not to say that this is a bad album. Although Andy Stott has shown significant development since his last LP Luxury Problems, the quirks he works into Faith In Strangers improve his musical style but fall short of having a greater lasting impact (aside from aIf there is one major thing I would want to say about this album is that I wish we could have included it in our 2014’s Best Albums Of The Year as an Honorable Mention.