Stumbleine – Spiderwebbed
aaamusic | On 12, Nov 2012
Apparently, according to the BBC, this is “accessible”. I’m very much not sure what to think of this, because in my experience, “accessible” records tend to be the ones you don’t feel the need to have a PHD in order to listen to them, or at least be the ones that have hummable melodies, might just be me though. Maybe I’m just unused to Bristol based DJ Stumbleine’s style of music, which on the basis of this, his debut album, seems to be little more than lush, strangely intimate soundscapes with heavily treated vocals flowing over the top. Maybe this is par for the course with any album but this has definite peaks and troughs. However throughout is a streak of creativity rivalled by few others, and this does work to its advantage, bringing an ethereal, almost dreamlike quality to the high points of the record, of which there are more than a few. On the downside it can drag like nobody’s business, the opening tracks especially nearly bringing the momentum to a standstill on a record that’s barely started, however, one must look at the record as a cohesive whole to truly get it.
After the wilful obtuseness of the opening tracks, repetitive, sketchy second track “If You” being particularly to blame, the album truly gets going with The Beat My Heart Skips. Crystalline keyboard chords, subtle guitar and the vocals of guest singer CoMa combine to create one of the true highpoints of the album, an almost angelic, meditative workout that could soothe the most savage of beasts. It was hearing that track that made me realize what the BBC meant by “accessible”, not in the traditional sense that basically means that stupid people can like it, but in the sense that something so defiantly odd, lest we forget the vast majority of these tracks are structureless instrumentals using sped up vocal samples as the main hooks, and makes them a therapeutic and, in some cases, thoroughly enjoyable listen.
The album doesn’t quite scrape The Beat My Heart Skips’ heights afterwards, but it does give the album some depth, and a delectable cover of Mazzy Star’s Fade Into You comes very close. In total, this is an album as fascinating as it is, on occasion, genuinely beautiful. Not only is this a good record within its genre, but it could serve as a gateway drug for knuckle-dragging rock fans like me to get into a world of electronic music hitherto unknown to us. For that alone, I can’t recommend this album enough.