Andy Votel is a many splendid thing – producer, designer, DJ, remixer, record label co-founder, friend of the stars. The list is so long you’d be forgiven in assuming he must be good at all subjects musical/creative. However, his second album release, All Ten Fingers will negate all such notions.
The follow up to Styles of the Unexpected is a fragmented, disjointed, overloaded piece of chill-out psychedelia. Andy has brought a world of sound and musical instruments to one forum, but the pieces never quite join together and the product never flows. His sound is a far cry from the laid-back indie sound of his Twisted Nerve contemporaries Badly Drawn Boy, Misty Dixon and Alfie.
Yes, Votel’s “abstract electronica” sound can definitely be described as original. This album delivers funky, jazzy beats against a backdrop of a multitude of electronic sounds. There is a feeling of being at one with nature throughout this album, from the birdy sounds of On Dogs to the swimming-with-dolphins feel of The Viy.
But the purely instrumental pieces of this album are far too abstract and detached, and the incoherency of this album is only saved somewhat by the guest vocalists scattered through some of the 15 tracks. Sam Lynham’s vocals add a smoky, seductive feel to Questions and Sighs while The Can‘s Malcolm Mooney lends a poem he wrote during the Seventies to Salted Tangerines. Elsewhere, Elbow‘s Guy Garvey beautifies The Viy.
Most albums fit a time and place, and in terms of place, I tried treating this album as lounge music, travelling music, music to read by, music to walk by, but it never quite fitted any of the above. Others have described Votel’s music as futuristic – maybe that explains why a time never quite saved it either.
Comparisons have been made between Votel’s sound and that of Stereolab or even The Beta Band. I can’t say I agree – nor could I even provide a better example. ‘All Ten Fingers’ is an original piece of work – but give me mainstream repetitions any day.