Andy Stott’s debut, Merciless, opens quietly, building a minimal-aquatic aesthetic—warm synths, hi-hat and simple snare, strings in the background. This is minimal dub, with song arcs so low the wash is almost constant, and the unobtrusive beats fade into the background. Sound almost apologizes for its presence breaking the silence. This is especially true on “Hi-Rise”, for example, which is minimal house to the point of dissolution, and the title track “Merciless”, all ambient pianos and synths without percussion, hardly making an impression on the speakers. “Choke” provides a welcome change with broken beats and a series of intertwining robot-twiddles, and is indicative of the small-scale innovations. Elsewhere, it’s a rattlesnake patter in “Come to Me”, or the small-scale broken beats of “Herzog”, a neat track that begins to build up, only to back away again into synth-pad veiled house. As the ambient wash of closer “Peace of Mind” fades, the music reminds you of those solitary games in the Myst series, where you wandered around a deserted world by yourself, trying to solve insoluble riddles, to the accompaniment of these otherworldly synth pulses. It’s an accompaniment, or a film score. Andy Stott refuses to coerce attention, and that’s precisely the way he likes it.
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