The Most Sublime Album You Didn’t Hear in 2012

Earlier this week I received an email from a music rep asking if I’d premiere a Silver Swans remix of Stumbleine’s track “The Beat My Heart Skips.” I ended up covering it for VICE’s music publication Noisey (click the link to check it out), and it got a fairly strong response, given that neither Silver Swans nor Stumbleine are household indie music names. Well, Stumbleine is well-known in the UK electronic music scene, particularly through his work in the shoegaze/dubstep trio Swarms, but his audience is limited stateside.

At any rate, I loved the remix and it got me burrowing into Stumbleine and Swarms’ discographies. One internet search brought up Drowned In Sound’s full album stream of Stumbleine’s 2012 album Spiderwebbed.

Flash opinion: The album is a wondrously intricate elaboration of his work in Swarms, fusing dreampop, shoegaze and dubstep (not the Skrillex variety, but that of Burial). Stumbleine takes it a step further, though, and folds in layers of Phil Spector girl group drums and R&B. There is one misguided though forgivable weak point: Stumbeleine’s cover of the Mazzy Star classic “Fade Into You” (vocals provided by Steffaloo). Otherwise this album is a gem of consuming sonic beauty.

Stumbleine isn’t out to reinvent anything, but to use his skills to project a skein of glittering stars on a void. There is a psychogeographical component to Spiderwebbed. It’s not of the Burial variety, which evokes abandoned, raindrop-dappled streets with haunting precision, but a warm and seductive gravity that pulls you along sun-lit streets during summer days. If Burial is the dark side of the moon, then Stumbleine is the solar wind illuminating that satellites visible half.

While I would typically suggest listing to the album front to back, I recommend listening to Spiderwebbed’s closing track “Catherine Wheel.” It’s electronic music at its finest: beautiful, mesmerizing and completely sublime.

How Stumbleine isn’t as big as M83 by now is quite beyond me.

Stream the album over at Drowned In Sound.

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