Published Nov 17, 2014On 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. This complete overhaul hasn't done much to throw off his proficiency in balancing the harsh sounds with the placid ones. Skidmore's quixotic and breathless vocals play an even bigger role this time around, acting as the beacon that guides his shadowy production. She counters the industrial ringing on "Violence," then rolls with the nocturnal, motorized rhythm of "Science & Industry" and babbles to the beat, like a percussive instrument, on "On Oath."
And while his newfound notoriety hasn't made this a giant leap to something considerably more accessible, the title track's slinky bass and soft synths flutter with Skidmore in a playful manner; this track could've gone to Jessie Ware's album instead, had the connection been made. Preceding that, he drops "Damage," a fiendish trap anthem in the waiting that is just begging for a Chief Keef remix.
Bettering an album like Luxury Problems isn't a simple task, and Faith in Strangers doesn't exactly succeed in doing so. That said, it is as brilliant. What Faith in Strangers does do is confirm Stott's position as one of the most stirring and explorative producers going. (Modern Love)