Andy Stott

(Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

Luxury Problems (2012) , 7.5/10
Faith in Strangers (2014), 6.5/10
Too Many Voices (2016), 6/10

Manchester-based dj and techno producer Andy Stott established himself with a series of diligent EPs, later compiled on Unknown Exception (2008), and with the album Merciless (2006), but in the following decade he reinvented himself with the slow-motion jarring murky noir techno of the six-song mini-album Passed Me By (2011) and of the EP We Stay Together (2011), that includes Posers and the seven-minute Wires.

Luxury Problems (Modern Love, 2012), featuring vocalist Alison Skidmore, was baroquely produced to foster an unlikely fusion of ambient, techno and trip-hop music with a ghastly expressionist flavor. Numb takes a looped breathless whisper and manufactures (sexy) rhythm and (gloomy) atmosphere out of it before using its melodic content to recover its identity of trip-hop balladry. Brazilian chanting collides with strident dissonance in another hummable song, Hatch The Plan. Operatic invocations accentuate the ghostly aspect of the pulsing fabric of Lost And Found, slowly morphing into a busy Brazilian batucada. Sleepless is a more straightforward dance piece, with factory metronomes, glitchy noises and vocal snippets staging an android pow-wow of sorts. The abstract purely instrumental electronic fantasia Expecting borders on cosmic and gothic music, a deeply cryptic piece of music that seems to blend distorted samples of a thousand voices. At the other end of the spectrum, the jovial and soulful Luxury Problems, built around a steady (up)beat and heavenly chopped-up vocals, breaks the spell of the bleak suicidal mood. And Stott closes the album in a morbidly mellow tone with Leaving, a cross of dream-pop litany, children's lullaby and church hymn. This is one of the most creative techno albums since the 1990s, assuming that it can still be called "techno".

Faith in Strangers (Modern Love, 2014) reveals a harsher side of the artist. It opens with Time Away in the vein of the fatalistic Brian Eno-esque undulating ambient drift, but the use of an euphonium (played by Kim Holly Thorpe) instead of a keyboard lends it a macabre tone, which segues into the glacial psychological kammerspiel torn by abrasive riffs of Violence. The eight-minute On Oath starts with otherworldly breathing that reverbs in a cathedral-like void, and that the most fragile of female vocals use for their looping nursery rhyme, and then the beat picks up, and soon doubles, injecting new life into her tender monologue. The sinister theme continues on Science & Industry, despite poppy chanteuse-like singing, thanks to the neurotic combination of slow tides of electronics and ticking overlapping beats. The electronic melody of No Surrender exudes a sense of melodrama, and the rhythm mercilessly assails it, booming and banging and bouncing. Even the gentle Missing slows down to a crawling speed that evokes inner ghosts and funereal rites, especially when the electronic wind picks up, covering everything like a shroud. On the downside, Faith In Strangers is nothing but a soul ballad for cocktail lounges, "low art" camouflaged as "high art"; Damage is an industrial dance number like many heard before; and the looping robotic How It Was lands into a Brian Eno album of the 1970s.

(Translation by/tradotto da Gianfranco Federico)

Il dj e produttore techno di Manchester Andy Stott si impose con una serie di diligenti EP, più tardi raccolti su Unknown Exception (2008), e con l’album Merciless (2006), ma durante la decade successiva reinventò se stesso con la lenta, torbida, stonata techno noir del mini album di sei canzoni Passed Me By (2011) e dell’EP We Stay Together (2011), che include Posers e i sette minuti di Wires.

Luxury Problems (Modern Love, 2012), con la vocalist Alison Skidmore, fu prodotto in maniera barocca per favorire un’improbabile fusione di musica ambient, techno e trip-hop con uno spaventoso gusto espressionista. Numb prende un loop di respiro e vi costruisce sopra un ritmo (sensuale) e un’atmosfera (cupa), prima di usare il suo contenuto melodico per recuperare la sua identità di ballata trip-hop. Un cantato brasiliano collide con una dissonanza stridente in un altro brano orecchiabile, Hatch The Plan. Invocazioni operatiche accentuano l’aspetto spettrale del tessuto pulsante di Lost And Found, che si tramuta lentamente in una batucada brasiliana. Sleepless è un pezzo dance più lineare, con metronomie da fabbrica, rumori glitch e frammenti vocali che mettono in scena un pow-wow androide di sorta. La fantasia astratta e puramente strumentale Expecting confina con la musica cosmica e gotica, un brano profondamente criptico che sembra fondere sample distorti di un migliaio di voci. All’altra estremità dello spettro, la gioviale e soul Luxury Problems, costruita intorno ad un vivace battito costante e parti vocali celestiali, rompe l’incantesimo di un cupo stato d’animo suicida. E Stott chiude l’album in un tono morbidamente tenue con Leaving, un incrocio tra una litania dream-pop, una ninna nanna per bambini e un inno da chiesa. Questo è uno degli album techno più creativi dagli Anni Novanta, se questa può ancora essere definita “techno”.

Demdike Stare's Miles Whittaker and Stott were also active as Millie & Andrea, a project documented on Drop the Vowels (2014).

Andy Stott and Alison Skidmore further tamed their sound on Too Many Voices (Modern Love, 2016). Despite the cacophonous overture Waiting For You, most of the album contents itself with simple songs, from the anemic falsetto soul ballad Butterflies to the Enya-esque lullaby Too Many Voices. There is even a melodic peak: the nostalgic laid-back techno carillon of On My Mind. New Romantic is slightly more complicated: funky synth-pop with farting bass line, silky keyboards and Skidmore's ecstatic vocals. Stott's cubistic downtempo is better represented by the industrial grime of Selfish that dissolves into bubbles of female vocals and electronic ping-pong.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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(Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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