Warmly lugubrious, Faith In Strangers is Manchester electronic producer Andy Stott’s follow-up to 2012’s Luxury Problems.Stott’s characteristic dark noise is clearly present throughout the album, but the airy vocals of Allison Skidmore—who also sang on Luxury Problems—are largely impactful on the tone of the work. The entire album feels like a cohesive contradiction, a partnership of extremes. Ambient music such as Stott’s can sometimes feel too dense for the average listener, but Skidmore’s ethereal vocals serve to broaden the music’s accessibility, acting as a light to guide an unsure listener through Stott’s beautifully dense soundscapes.
Though this album contains its fair share of murky dissonance and abrasion—the menacing drum-and-bass break “Damage” or the eerily glitching electronics of “Missing”—its aggressive moments are always countered by interludes of celestial clarity. This dichotomy is best heard in the album’s standout tracks, “Violence” and “Faith in Strangers.” The former is a slow-building tune that lives up to its name, a rusty beat that erupts into a static-enveloped sludge. The title track, on the other hand, pulses and glows, gently building like an intensifying heartbeat as the steady thud of the bass is enveloped by wavy synths and a skittering drum line.
Stott has shown continual growth as an artist, and Faith in Strangers is simply the next stage in his musical evolution. His unique rough edges have not been smoothed over—rather, they now surround a more expanded soundscape and refined musical aesthetic. If you enjoy music that envelops and enthrals in exciting ways, Faith in Strangers is most definitely a rewarding listen.