StumpTone - "s/t"
(Two Ohm Hop 1999, toh005cd)
From Aural Innovations #9 (January 2000)
StumpTone's debut single (see AI #7) featured two stylistically different songs, one side being a full band pop-psych tune and the flip side being a laid back acoustic song. Well it turns out that those two songs couldn't have been more spot on in representing what Stumptone is about. There's quite a bit of variety on this full length CD and I wouldn't dare try to label it.
Based in Denton, Texas, StumpTone's lineup has apparently been quite fluid over the years, but the core member is songwriter Chris Plavidal who plays guitar, bass, moog, tapes, drums, trumpet, and various other toys. Joining Plavidal are Mike Throneberry on drums, Miguel Veliz on bass, Quincy Holloway on bass (both Veliz and Holloway are also with Sub Oslo), Chris Veon on bass, Karl Poetschke on trumpet, Penny Lea Wells on slide guitar, and Wanz Dover on guitar (ex-Mazinga Phaser).
StumpTone defies labels, but is clearly in the psychedelic realm. What changes - quite drastically - from song to song (and even within songs) is the level of the music's aggression. Sometimes the music is heavy droning wall of sound psych, but most of the heavy music is pleasingly melodic and makes room for lots of freaky synth sounds, backwards loops, and wild voice samples. The lineup indicates a number of guitarists and the influences are many. The guitar parts can be fantastically interstellar. Space jams that recall early Pink Floyd but with a bit more drumming madness to accompany the guitars. When this band soars they burst through the atmosphere and the ride is hard but fun.
But StumpTone has its quieter moments as well. Melancholy acoustic pieces are scattered throughout the disc, crosses between Nick Drake and the kind of bluesy tracks that tended to pop up on Pink Floyd albums. There's a gorgeous, but all too short, echoed slide guitar during one song. That it didn't continue for a while is my only real disappointment on the album.
In summary, StumpTone will appeal to those who like both heavy tripped out psychedelia and quieter but still spacey psych. You also have to be open to lots of stylistic twists and turns on the journey. It took me several listens but I've really taken a shine to this disc.
Stumptone is available through the Two Ohm Hop label.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz