8. Andy Stott, 'Faith in Strangers'
Subtlety reigns supreme here, but U.K. veteran Andy Stott is a master of gleaning maximal effect from minimal means. On his fourth full-length, the Manchester experimentalist turns forbidding sounds into beautiful artifacts. Like the statue on the cover, the music on Faith in Strangers stretches and blurs; much of it haunted by the presence of Alison Skidmore, a breathy, spectral vocalist who commands attention even when she's not actually singing. The best tracks ("On Oath," "Science and Industry," "How It Was") match her hovering voice with beats that pound away. A.B.