A Calm After The Storm
On his latest album, Dissolver, British producer Stumbleine pairs up with singer-songwriter Violet Skies for a gorgeous collection of downtempo electronic music in an ongoing tribute to his fellow Bristol-based predecessors Massive Attack. The album continues to reinforce Stumbleine’s well-established knack for clean, organic and modern soundscapes that complement the all-important calm after the rain storm. However, the addition of Skies makes for something happier, more life-affirming and uplifting. The drums are bigger and the guitars have more chime. The synthesizers have an added glow and Skies’ ethereal vocals bring the songs to an even more beautiful place.
The songs maintain a steady molasses-laden pace, though none feel like a slog to experience. On “Sunset Boulevard,” the duo matches Skies’ pretty vocals and a very ’90s-sounding combination of shimmering clean and distorted guitars with minimal electronics in an interplay doused in grandiose sweeps. As Skies sings the chorus, “Fall asleep / Never to wake too deep,” amid a respectful string arrangement, the feeling is triumphant, a sentiment that persists throughout the collection.
Whereas previously Stumbleine seemingly sought to keep people even-keeled, his pairing with Violet Skies is an altogether different type of medicine. As the listener falls deeper into this thing, he or she is yanked from any dark, soul-crushing pit of captivity into a bright, celestial reunion with the divine spark.
“One Step Closer” is another win for the Swarms member and the Welsh songstress, a beautifully conjured ode to being so close to that goal: pure love. Skies sings in the chorus, “I was one step closer to loving him/Was one step closer to fitting in my skin” over a chord progression that teeters on a delicate paradox of happy and depressing notes. If Stumbleine and Violet Skies sought to create an album that is beautiful and important, they need not worry about being one step from that goal. They made it, and we’re better off for it.