Having just fallen under Amusement’s spell, this year-old remix of Mafia Light’s “West” is particularly appealing to us. It’s a light, airy glo-fi composition peppered with vinyl scratches and clicks and soulful vocal samples. The pitch-shifted vocalization is nigh on unintelligible, becoming one in the chorus of washed out and digitized instrumentation at play throughout the atmospheric vignette. Akin to the freeze frame above, Amusement’s version of “West” is a soft focus product from the age of film and tape. Minimalistic percussion pairs quite nicely with the warbled string sample and looped tones, resulting in a lazy, dreamy neo-R&B mix that deserves innumerable re-listens. Fans of Giraffage, Stumbleine, or Sun Glitters will appreciate the gauzy wafer-thin synth tracks and the treated emotion at play in the Guildford trio’s “West (Amusement remix)”, so do tha right thing and grab a d/l posthaste.
Prolific Bristol producer Stumbleine has always had a penchant for the dark, sentimental side of this new wave of electronic music. Pairing his heavily pitch-shifted vocal samples with Hammock-esque ambient guitar and thick trip-hop beats straight out of the Sun Glitters playbook, Stumbleine continually resurfaces and reforms, releasing EP’s, singles, and full-lengths’ worth of moody dream pop. His new album Spiderwebbed was just released today, but what we’re here to praise is the short July release The Night Before, which is kind of like an EP, featuring four solid entries and a cover at the end. Having evolved from very shoegaze-influenced early work to a pronounced experimental R&B phase, Stumbleine’s newest offerings are continually honed to a perfect point of emotional ambience, largely piano- and guitar-driven. Heavily processed vocals still abound—thank god—as the artist uses them to such great effect, revealing an otherworldly yearning and impassioned crooning present in tracks such as “Glacier”. The clunky found sounds that comprise the percussion create a very pronounced downtempo mood, in addition to the atmospheric tracks that waft in and out, setting the scene with rain drops pitter-pattering on the roof of a chalet or the sounds of a crowd cheering triumphantly. The true gem on The Night Before, in our collective opinion, however, is the stark opener, “Strawberry Blonde”, featured above. An unofficial remix of Southern Shores’ sunny Balearic jam “Night Is Young”, the Stumbleine version completely reinvents the tune, trading in tropical samba sounds for ominous candlelight lullabies. The vocal samples are really the only things that resemble the original work at all, and this refix stands very strong in its own light (or lack thereof). There’s even a very clean-sounding cover of Radiohead’s timeless hit “Fake Plastic Trees” at the end of the collection to lead the listener out. We would love to recommend Stumbleine’s second most recent release, The Night Before, so do tha right thing and fetch a download of it for only ₤2.50 (about $4) over at his Bandcamp page. Afterwards, check out his back catalog, especially Ghosting and Sunshine Girls. Fans of ambient, downtempo, dream pop, shoegaze, trip-hop, and witch house all have a place reserved around Stumbleine’s warm bonfire.
I discovered the music of Tours the other today. While his work is honestly more of this site’s typical chillwave fare, I personally never say “no” to seconds. “Enthusiast”, today’s instrumental standout track from the aforementioned artist’s Stay EP, employs some serious basslines and percussion work that channel the vibe of fellow chillwaver Sun Glitters, in my opinion (sans the trip-hoppy lurchiness). Arena-worthy lead synth tracks buzz along, though almost playing second fiddle to the almighty beast that is this track’s beat. Fans of the sounds of artists like Ice Cream Social, Ilkae, or of Phantom Power will appreciate Tours’ short, sweet burst of flavor that doesn’t waste any time getting down to business. The EP from whence our song of the day comes was recorded in a bedroom to a very limited release of only fifty cassette tapes via Purr Tapes, but is nonetheless positively pulsing with life throughout. While Tours certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel with “Enthusiast”, it makes for a lush and well-balanced dip into refreshing waters that will never go out of style (as evidenced by the above official video). Grab a free download of the jam from his Bandcamp below, along with another good recent standout that’s worth adding to your growing collection.
Whoa. Have you checked out Stumbleine’s older work yet? Right before the Rose Tinted EP, which has captivated me recently, a short album was released called All for Your Smile. It’s no secret that we up here at Tiananmen Square Dance are huge fans of the direction that chillwave has taken lately, veering away from the lo-fi surf psychedelia and into pitch-shifting experimental R&B territory. Stumbleine takes the oft-used formula popularized by the likes of Holy Other and Krusht and marries that with ambient white light in the form of atmospheric sheets of synth or guitar reverb. Wait—reverb? Yes, as evidenced by the tone and execution of the lion’s share of All for Your Smile, Stumbleine used to have a bit of shoegaze influence, not unlike what you might hear in the respective works of Keith Canisius or The Sight Below. Don’t think for a minute that this a far cry from the Stumbleine you know and love, though. If anything, what you’re hearing nowadays is stripped down in comparison. The general form and sound of All for Your Smile is that of muted, chopped and screwed vocals backed by plodding beats (à la Sun Glitters, but not as clumsy) and gentle, dark guitar loops. It’s serene and beautiful, equal parts dark and light, and in retrospect, I’m kind of surprised Stumbleine has since cast off the whole shoegaze vibe. I rather like it, and it turns the heads of people who don’t even like ambient music. Though the album is tragically short, it is surprising and refreshing to find that Stumbleine, albeit since blossomed, has roots that are well grounded in emotive music. Do tha right thing, and bust out the dimes for Stumbleine’s All for Your Smile. If I can support independent musicians, you can too, and this one is well-worth it.
Count me unfortunately among those who have yet to acquire the leak of Bear in Heaven’s newest effort I Love You, It’s Cool. Alas, I am of the old school group of people who prefer to wait in eager anticipation for the release date proper. Also, I’ve been spending all of my funds on pitch-shifting startup artists like Stumbleine and Sun Glitters lately, so I haven’t gotten an earful of the more radio-friendly hipster drivel yet. If the first single “The Reflection of You” is proven to be an apt reflection of the whole of the album, then you can sign me up wholly. RCRD LBL just today got their grubby little hands on yet another leaked track from said upcoming marvel, this one being titled “Sinful Nature”. Now, the fellas in Bear in Heaven have never been the type to shy away from the nitty gritty of things, but judging from the overall tone of this more brooding track, I Love You, It’s Cool seems to be taking the form of a more hi-fi and user-friendly release that will hopefully up the group’s ante influentially. Do tha right thing, and check this free MP3 download of Bear in Heaven’s second single, “Sinful Nature”, here at RCRD LBL. Save some room, of course, for the real stuff on April 3rd, when I Love You, It’s Cool is given its real deal release.