Andy Stott: Faith in Strangers

British abstractionist explores the dark side of ambient music

Andy Stott Credit: PYMCA/Getty

Opening on glacial chords that echo Brian Eno's ambient work, the latest by U.K. electronic magician Andy Stott cooks down the abstract beauty of his 2012 LP Luxury Problems to a new minimalism. Which isn't to say it's sleepy, or comforting. On "Violence," sidekick Alison Skidmore intones "clap your hands" over uneasy melody and menacing beats; "Damage" evokes a sheet-metal assault. Silence and space are savored even when the tempo ratchets up. But human tenderness still illuminates these tracks at their darkest: On the title cut, minor chords murmur under industrial screeches while Skidmore sings of love. Then she's gone.