Published Dec 15, 2014Manchester producer Andy Stott is in love with his drum machine. The piece of gear he found on eBay was a major source of inspiration for his new album, Faith in Strangers, and right now he can't imagine life without it.
"I bought a drum machine a couple of years ago, and having gone deeper into it, I don't think I can write a track without it now," Stott says. "It's one of the main features on the album as well. I think one main piece of equipment can dictate what you make." For Stott, it might actually be two pieces of equipment. Just as vital is his Zoom portable recorder, which captured many of the found sounds that ring throughout the album, even inspiring song titles.
"There is a car park in Manchester, where I slammed the door shut, and the reverb and the delay from doing that was unbelievable. I just thought, 'I need to come back here,'" he admits. "There are places with industrial sounds, like this museum — the Museum of Science and Industry — and there are tons of stuff in there. The big clang in 'Science and Industry' is from a big piston on a steam engine. But I take my Zoom recorder everywhere and try to record wherever I go."
After turning a lot of heads with 2011's Passed Me By and We Stay Together EPs, and the 2012 full-length, Luxury Problems, Stott challenged himself by completely revolutionizing his approach to making murky dub techno by switching from software to analog.
"It was more time-consuming, but at the same time it was a massive learning curve," he explains. "[The process] was massively different because Luxury Problems was about 85 to 90 percent done on software, with a little bit of hardware. And Faith in Strangers is the complete opposite, 90 percent hardware. The computer was used for a bit of percussion, but mainly for multi-tracking. So the process was completely flipped upside down."
The process may have been flipped, but Faith in Strangers continues the progress he made with Luxury Problems. While that album found Stott bringing more shape to his cavernous spaces and trilling bass, thanks in large part to vocalist Alison Skidmore, he's made what is undoubtedly his most fully formed and accessible album yet.
"I think it's got lighter patches, but I think there's just more space in it," he says. "The title track is one of the lighter tracks on the album, but it still has this, not sinister undertone, but something a bit unsettling underneath it."