UK-producer Andy Stott has quietly entered the public eye through a series of minimal, experimental techno releases. Each album is dark and droney but each composition eventually opens up into booming, techno rhythms. Much like each of his album covers, the drums and synthesizers are in grey scale mixing together cloudy ambient and thunderous bass. Though his sound is akin to other UK producers like Burial, Stott's production is much more cinematic and epic in execution. His breakout albums Luxury Problems and Faith In Strangers, Stott contributed compositions that are immediate and immersive. Utilizing haunting vocal samples and shuffling beats, his brand of techno was not only stylish but also hypnotizing and immersive.
Instead of long, building intros and massive crescendos, Stott's fifth studio album Too Many Voices sports confrontational beats and infectious melodies that are instantly catchy. The abridged song lengths, the tracks take a more experimental direction faster making them more off-putting on the surface. With more vocal features and upfront drums than before, this hybridization of dub, house and ambient techno is more extroverted than ever before. On the other side of the spectrum, the single "Butterflies" is a woozy, metallic track with breathy and smooth R&B over top. Much like the album name implies, with more focus on what the human larynx is capable of, we see a collision of styles, emotions and sounds.
The main vocal contributor, Alison Skidmore, adds a sense of compassion and soul into the highly textured beats. On the title track, throbs of bass meet breathy hisses in a fashion that is orchestral and abstract. Suddenly, marches of synthesized choral samples drive the track forward in an uncomfortably steady pace. Though the track is off-putting and strange, it sums up the album in a perfect fashion. The light with the dark, the beautiful with the ugly, the human with the machine. These juxtapositions are core to what makes Andy Stott's style so appealing.
Though the album is not as fleshed out as his previous efforts, the truncated theme of this album may be a great place for new listeners to begin with Stott's discography. With more emphasis on vocal melody and hooks, this may be Stott's most pop-oriented album to date. With that being said, Too Many Voices is the pop records for warehouse rave nightclubs, lonely rainy nights and drives in the small hours of the morning. With a the fewer, higher quality sonic ingredients, Too Many Voices is not only one of Andy Stott's best achievements, but one of the best electronic albums of the year.
Out now on Modern Love, Too Many Voices by Andy Stott is Radio 1190's CD of the month for May. For a full review, log on to radio1190.org