Spiderwebbed, the debut record from Bristol producer Stumbleine is quite simply and effectively a chilled out atmospheric creation. There’s no real high and lows as its ten tracks wash over creating a consistent dreamy collage of downtempo electro mixed with hints of dubstep and shoegaze. The album comes on the back of a series of releases, including two digital mini-albums and an EP, during 2012 for the Swarms member, all indicative of his determination to step outside the approach that characterises that dubstep oriented trio.

Opening track ‘Cherry Blossom’ rests on a swinging four four beat and manipulated female vocals. ‘If You’ saunters along with its chiming synths and clattering rhythm while the simple yet emotive ‘Capulet’ is dominated by three evenly spaced chords that layers are added to as it progresses. Album standout and first single, ‘The Beat My Heart Skips’ is a triumph with its two step beat, shoreline effects and powerfully warped synths. The vocals of Nicole Briggs come to the fore more than any on other track as she exorts us to exhale over and over again. ‘Honey Comb’ continues the trajectory of songs two and three while ‘Solar Flare’ loop pulses away underneath a dubstep shuffle.

The erstwhile and seemingly everywhere Steph Thompson’s fragile vocals sit as perfect counterpoint to the sparkly, yet spare take on the Mazzy Star staple ‘Fade Into You’. It is a welcome diversion from the originals before and after it. ‘Kaleidoscope’ follows and fizzes along with its restless busy yet understated beat and looped electronics. ‘The Corner Of Her Eye’ centres on its pop disposition and laid back beat while Waikato’s Alicia Merz, the mastermind behind the ambient minimalist project Birds of Passage lends her support to the ultra-hypnotic closing track ‘Catherine Wheel’.

Music is meant to ultimately be enjoyed. Those who want more intellectual rigour may have to look elsewhere. Stumbleine’s aim is to create a mood, an image, a feeling. Spiderwebbed’s dreamy disposition takes you places, places that don’t overwhelm and rarely challenge. But that’s the point. The album doesn’t exist to challenge and confound; it exists to reassure and confirm.

James Stocker – December 14, 2012.


The Beat My Heart Skips (Feat. CoMa)

Stumbleine (ENG)
From the album, ‘Spiderwebbed’, Monotreme.

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