November 2, 2014

Andy Stott, "Faith In Strangers"

All the rock and roll I've been digesting has been leaving me mostly (and most regrettably) blind to the gobs of other music coming out. I'm not one to confine everything non-rock to one single pool, but being rather cold of mood lately, I've found I have to be in a certain itchy headspace to wander away from the warm embrace of fuzz guitars and joyously thudding kick drums. Here's a record that makes it easy. Electronic producer Andy Stott is famous (if that's a word I can use here) for taking techno's half-second pulse and slowing everything way down. Snare hits become distorted, watery slaps. Dance beats become painful beatings. More than a gimmick or a trope, Stott uses this super-slow aesthetic to transcend genre and work more like a cinematic sound designer. His songs are sometimes just synthy ambience, sometimes heavy drum machine dirges. But in all of them, there are pictures. The fuzzy chiaroscuro, the grain of underexposed film, the slow walk down a hallway with the framing all tight and paranoid. It's here. I hesitate to say this record is dream-like, because it's such a sickeningly candy-assed term, but it really does sound like the perfect soundtrack to a dream I've had a hundred times: I'm trying to run, but I can't because my feet are stuck in some horrible muck. I can't get my knees to lift at anything more than a snail's pace. Every body part is almost too heavy to move. It's like I'm running underwater, but it's a substance even heavier than that, like some clear goop. Everything's suspended, nothing works at any speed except the absolute slowest. And behind me, I can feel something drawing down. It's almost got me, I can sense it there, trying to grab on and drag me into its maw. I don't know if it's a monster or just some dark force because I can't turn my head to look (though I imagine a horrible monster). Its pull is certain. I can feel the evil. I am running as hard as I can but I'm moving oh so slowly. I'm as helpless and frightened as I've ever been. And this is the song I hear.