Following their collaborative EP, Chasing Honeybees, in February, UK writer / producer Stumbleine (aka Peter Cooper) and vocalist/songwriter Violet Skies release their debut album, Dissolver.
While listening to the 10 tracks of Dissolver, I think of Massive Attack, Elisabeth Fraser, Cocteau Twins, Mazzy Star, Jesus & Mary Chain, The Sundays and the explorative dreamy music of Kevin Shields and My Bloody Valentine. It sounds like Peter Cooper has been listening to my record collection and managed to succinctly create an album full of influential references borrowing ideas and blending sounds to perfectly suit the beautiful, soulful voice of Violet Skies. In much the same way as Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ was a perfect match for the Cocteau Twins’ Elisabeth Fraser.
But don’t think the aforementioned list is in anyway negative or condescending. It’s not like the Jesus & Mary Chain influence is entitled ‘Just Like Marmalade’. Although clearly recognisable, this is not a Gallagher brothers production. Stumbleine makes no attempt to hide influences in his work. In fact he has previously recorded a cover version of the shoegazing classic Mazzy Star’s ‘Fade Into You’.
Stumbleine’s music is given more than simply a voice. The velvet vocals of Violet Skies gives each song a personality. I thought of Rhianna. But to be honest, the contemporary soulful R ‘n’ B style isn’t my strong point. Though the 22 year-old from south Wales cites Joni Mitchell and the soundscapes of James Blake and Massive Attack, among her influences.
What I love most about this album is the way the music and voice, and the various influences seamlessly gel and plays together as an unabridged set of songs. So well in fact, that it’s hard to think this is collaboration between two solo artists.
Dissolver starts with the deep sparseness of ‘Thunderdome’ like an introductory piece to capture the atmosphere and settle an audience before the show begins. Think The XX at their most melancholy. Then, with the opening swathes of distorted guitar, the shoegazing ‘Sunset Boulevard’ starts the journey proper. This is a beautiful song that perfectly showcases how Violet Skies brings life to, and opens the music as it drifts and floats around the room. Think Cocteau Twins and the luscious soaring vocals of Elisabeth Fraser.
Even on repeat plays, the album appears to end too soon – always a good sign with a new album. Other tracks include the catchy melodic pop of ‘Heroine’, with its ‘Just Like Honey’ sound, the err towards R ‘n’ B of ‘Her Touch’ and ‘Whirlpool’ and the swirling shoegaze-infused dreamscapes of ‘One Step Closer’ and ‘Sleeping Through The Day’.
Dissolver is my first contender for best album of 2014.
Stumbleine featuring Violet Skies Dissolver tracklisting
2. Sunset Boulevard
3. We’re Shadows
4. Her Touch
7. One Step Closer
8. Baby Don’t Go
10. Sleeping Through The Day
Stumbleine featuring Violet Skies debut album, Dissolver is released on CD, vinyl & digital album on 7 April 2014 on Monotreme Records.