Accessible, atmospheric electronica for the climax-chasing comedown.
Mike Diver 2012
Bristol producer Stumbleine has been making the right waves in the right circles for some time. As a third of dubsteppers Swarms he’s courted dancefloors and tastemaker DJs alike, while a couple of previous EPs under this solo moniker – Rose Tinted and All for Your Smile – pricked the ears of blog-savvy sorts.
This debut LP comes via Monotreme, a label that knows a thing or two about innovative electro having previously put out discs by 65daysofstatic and Nedry. But there’s little obvious invention across Spiderwebbed’s 10 tracks. This is deliberately downbeat, purposefully pedestrian fare, sounds for the comedown rather than any kind of climax. It’s incredibly pretty, but ultimately lacking in memorable moments.
Which isn’t to say this is a categorically disappointing collection – it’s just that its dynamics are predictable, relative rises and falls telegraphed through experience of the artist and myriad peers. Those who picked up the EPs, and played them to death, will feel this music is overly familiar; advancement from EPs to album is minimal, and the track Kaleidoscope actually made an appearance on Rose Tinted.
But if Stumbleine is a new name to the listener, there’s plenty to fall in love with. Capulet, Cherry Blossom and Honeycomb are gorgeous, layered with ghostly vocal snippets, complementing well the summer-evening cover-art aesthetic presented by this otherwise faceless musician. These are arrangements that bloom and breeze, swaying in a way that can only ever lull an audience into a state of underplayed reverie. A straight-faced cover of Mazzy Star’s Fade Into You is a distraction rather than a delight, but it’s a rare misstep on a set of considerable consistency.
If that consistency, to these ears, progresses along a linear path littered with other purveyors of chilled-out descents from revelry, it shouldn’t be perceived as a wholly dismissive opinion. Stumbleine makes it easy for all comers to his accessible, instantly engaging work: everything’s constructed in the same shades; there are no troublesome tangents into BPMs that might upset a blissful drift into daydreams.
But then, why should he deliver busier beats, when Swarms provide them so very effectively?