Well, sure — it’s a little surprising that Andy Stott is only just now releasing a song called “Violence.” His music is violent by nature, evoking some truly wrenching and guttural sounds from his menacing, industrial percussion. As dance music goes, Stott doesn’t seem to care much for the quick and easy efficiency of a 4/4 house beat right to the torso. He prefers to get his hands dirty, squishing the grit and the grime between his fingers as his samplers belch out noxious emissions in rhythmic form. And yet, it’s with those hands that he’s able to mold his unique, sooty mixture into something beautiful — transcendent even.
Held against any of the songs on Stott’s previous album Luxury Problems, “Violence” seems to find even more light beaming through the jet-black walls of his mesmerisingly murky beat factory. Once again teamed with vocalist Alison Skidmore, Stott puts the focus on his ethereal, ghostly chanteuse, interrupting her gorgeous vocal leads with upbeat, yet strangely unsettling synth chimes. They burble with distortion and panic, signaling the kind of cognitive dissonance that comes from an ice-cream truck’s loudspeaker jingle in an abandoned lot at midnight. Or, put another way, it’s creepy.
At 2:45 though, something changes. Skidmore goes from being barely there to sounding curiously menacing herself as she chants, “Clap your hands/ Clap your hands.” All the while, Stott builds up his own industrial trip-hop stomp, which achieves its own cleansing, tenderizing climax in its final minute. “Violence” is, true to its name, a violent piece of music. But it takes quite a while for the actual punishment to start. Its first aim is to stoke fear within the listener, let it collect deep in the viscera, and then show the mercy of sweet release through some of the most pummeling sounds of Stott’s career. It’s twisted genius is what it is.[from Faith in Strangers, out Nov. 18; Modern Love]
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.