Andy Stott

(Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

Passed Me By (2011), 7.5/10 (EP)
We Stay Together (2011), 6/10 (EP)
Luxury Problems (2012) , 7.5/10
Faith in Strangers (2014), 6.5/10
Too Many Voices (2016), 6/10
It Should Be Us (2019) , 6/10
Never the Right Time (2021), 4/10
The Slow Ribbon (2022), 4/10

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

Manchester-based dj and techno producer Andy Stott established himself with a series of diligent EPs, later compiled on Unknown Exception (2008), well representative of the early dubstep scene (Long Drive and Replace from the EP Replace, 2005; Credit from Ceramics, 2005; She’s Gone Wrong from The Nervous, 2006; the two sides of the single Handle With Care/ See In Me, 2006; the single The Massacre, 2007; the two sides of Fear Of Heights/ Made your Point, 2007; the single Hostile, 2007; the two sides of Bad Landing/ Fine Metallic Dollar, 2008). He rose to prominence in the minimal-techno scene with the album Merciless (2006), and then he reinvented himself with the slow-motion jarring murky noir dub-tinged techno of the six-song mini-album Passed Me By (Modern Love, 2011): New Ground is a simply syncopated loop with debris of sensual female vocals, but North to South litters a convoluted beat with industrial noises, while Intermittent injects orchestral samples into a spinning beat. The most sophisticated pieces are Dark Details, an Afro-tribal beat that ends in a sort of solipsistic swing dance, and the reverbed, horror atmosphere of Execution. The short release reveals a stellar amount of creativity.

Its companion six-song EP We Stay Together (2011) boasts more abstract beats (the beat all but disappears in Cherry Eye, the album's standout) and a more gothic atmosphere (Posers), but in general it is vastly inferior. The more trivial beats of Bad Wires and We Stay Together signal a shift towards more conventional techno music.

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.

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.

The nine-song, 47-minute, double EP It Should Be Us (2019) boasts the relatively lively It Should Be Us, the tribal 0L9, the monotonous industrial Not This Time, the warped dub music of Versi and especially the ambient-psychedelic atmosphere of Take.

Never the Right Time (2021) was even more disappointing, a collection of ethereal dance songs whispered by Alison Skidmore (like the ambient dream-pop of Away Not Gone) and of lifeless beat-less ambient vignettes like Dove Stone. The polyrhythmic Never the Right Time and Answers are mildly interesting, but the album is mostly uninspired.

The cassette The Slow Ribbon (2022) is another waste of time.

(Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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