STOKELEY // PICTURES FROM THE SKY // OUT NOW // THIRTY ONE 50 RECORDS
A promising debut EP from new Cheltenham based producer Stokeley takes an all too brief voyage through soundscapes of warm, chilled out ambient electronica. This is surprisingly mature music, calm and thoughtful but never excessively ponderous and lacking any arrogance to leave the listener marooned in some interminable collage of sound.
There's a diverse but intelligent range of influences here; from the trip-hop stylings of 'Easy I' towards the more understated, hidden dark grooves present on 'Oasis' that characterise much of underground UK bass music in the last couple of years, notably on labels such as Night Slugs. However these influences certainly don't overshadow the tunes, being developed in a new synthesis where they're transplanted and put in new settings.
'Resign' is perhaps the most accessible song on the EP, as something approaching heaviness begins in waves of guitar feedback before squelchy synths stage an intervention, bringing things back to a calmer feel. The song serves as one of the few moments where noise threatens to be unleashed, standing in contrast to tracks such as 'Nature of Conversation', where Balearic synths are punctuated and stand as the backdrop to acoustic guitar, providing a backdrop that is reminiscent of an ambient record such as Fennesz's 'Endless Summer'. The calming feel remains even when the musical palette changes beneath it too, as the glitchy feel to the beginning of 'The South' demonstrates, with Stokeley intoning "Let us go to the south" in a vocal manner akin to ambient dubstep artists such as Jamie Woon or James Blake.
There's room for improvement too, with the low-mid range sounding somewhat murky to times and no one track absolutely making me sit up and take notice. But this is a warm, inviting EP which seems to want to transplant us to better places and a lovely way to spend twenty minutes.