Andy Stott, a Manchester based dub-techno producer, has finally graced us with his fourth album – “Faith In Strangers”. Andy’s efforts are regarded to be among the best, so with expectations high, let’s delve deeper and see if it’s worth grabbing this.
The album starts with “Time Away” – a slow creeper of drowned out drones that builds slowly through it’s six minutes of groan. It’s a perfect set up for what is about to come and you are left in a trance craving for more. “Violence” follows that slow progression, yet you are hooked from the start due to the incredible synth sample which is followed by perfectly timed silences and vocals. Once you get into the rhythm of that, Andy switches it up and, for the first time, introduces anything remotely close to the norm – a beat of heavy kicks, hats and slow snares. The little synth sample you heard in the beginning makes a comeback laced with distortion – a truly fantastic effort and one of my favourites of the lot.
Silence has a big part in this album – it is the driving force behind all of the distortion, heavy bass, screeches and vocals. It is what keeps you coming back for more – the best example for this is “No Surrender”. With a multitude of pauses, even more distortion on pretty much everything, it is a pulse that, at least to me, still maintains a warm sound, even though it should not. “How It Was” follows with what could be described as Andy’s best effort to make something remotely danceable to (and I do not mean this in a bad way, read on). It has a nice 4×4 kick riding away with all of the usual bells, whistles, scratches and distortion that by now you have come to accept and it is a welcome progression to the album.
“Damage” is next up and is, hands down, my favourite. It comes in as a surprise after the relatively calm 4×4 you got used to during “How It Was” and tears you a new one. Again, distortion makes a massive part in making this into something you cannot stop listening. The beat and the insane hi-hat arrangement carry this beast through it’s relatively short in comparison to the whole album four minutes. It is followed by the title track of the album – “Faith In Strangers”. It is a welcome change which goes back to a more dubby sound, which you need if you want to recover from “Damage”. Playful vocals, a rolling bassline, screeches and a variety of percussion with slow drony synths makes it obvious why it chosen as a title. The production value on this most likely the best out of the lot.
The album closes with “Missing”. Reminiscent of “Time Away” this is a perfect closer as it rounds up the experience which this album was. Personally I was very impressed, the mood shifts and the overall sound of the album are great, you get lost in the sound and in yourself when you listen to this. This is no “shuffle on, let’s go browse some internet” type of ordeal. If you want to experience this as it should be, put it on loud and relax. Get lost in the beauty of chaos, seemingly uncomfortable sound and most importantly silences. Vinyl in the bag for this.