For the past few months, hypnotic producer Stumbleine has released EP after EP on his Bandcamp page with intense persistency. For his first proper release, Spiderwebbed, the rising talent somehow managed to push out 10 new tracks, merely 3 months after his latest release.
Spiderwebbed starts strong with a couple of tracks that highlight Stumbleine’s most intriguing qualities as a songwriter. “Cherry Blossom” quickly introduces the album with supporting under-tones, subtle fills of percussion and an intricate weave of modified vocal samples. However, the use of these unidentifiable vocal fragments isn’t as just another element in Stumbleine’s ocean of sound; they are ultimately what makes his music so enchanting.
Such is the case with album highlight “If You”; a perfect example of using indistinguishable voice much like a lead singer uses words to reveal an inner meaning. Though gibberish, the samples promptly act as a front man to the cut’s delightfully stretched guitars and crunchy beat, yet the track could not achieve its overall aura of hovering without its base support: the instrumentation. The elemental blend Stumbleine creates with “If You” is truly special; it is the musical equivalent to gazing at the sun from under a body of water’s clear, blue surface.
The release continues to bleed passionately emotive vibes for a short time, and then slowly declines into just another glo-fi album. Whilst “Honeycomb” barely grasps onto the fundamentals that spring Spiderwebbed’s opening into life, “Solar Flare” embodies the very thing Stumbleine should avoid: static beats. Unlike earlier tracks, this one is recognizably looped upon first listen. Rather than embodying its own entity, this cut lacks the sentiment others flaunted and is only filler material at best.
Nonetheless, Spiderwebbed sinks to its lowest point with “Fade Into You.” Rather than complimenting Steffaloo’s dreamy lyricism with an elegance he has already displayed, Stumbleine takes the song into a direction that ultimately makes it unbearable. Not only is the beat oversimplified to accommodate actual vocals, but the strummy guitar work is annoyingly present throughout the track’s entirety. Perhaps it would stand better on its own, but “Fade Into You” is undoubtedly the black sheep of this LP.
Spiderwebbed’s last three tracks, however, gracefully steer the album back on course. Though busy, “Kaleidoscope” retains the rest of the LP’s stretched and easy splendor. Swirls of warm sounds are pushed forward by a surprisingly driving beat and fueling pads in a way that “Solar Flares” attempted to accomplish. After generating another musical body of flow and sensation, “The Corner of Her Eye” reaches an astonishing climax that suddenly transitions into an unforeseen reprise; (one of the albums prettiest moments.)
“Catherine Wheel,” the LP’s wonderful conclusion, features Stumbleine’s previously unutilized ability to support a vocalist while still retaining his affectionate sound. The track swells until a heart retching, breaking point is reached. Of course, this is the perfect way to conclude such a surprisingly moving album. While it is definitely flawed, Stumbleine’s debut has many redeeming qualities and a unique approach to electronic music. It isn’t a stretch to say that “The Corner of Her Eye” feels like saying goodbye to a friend and the emotions “Catherine Wheel” unveils is comparable to remembering that person later. After all, that’s what Spiderwebbed is: a recollection of feelings, sensations and memories.