Paper label boss Ben Davis has been DJing and producing for over twenty five years, most recently as the failed superhero Flash Atkins, whose music has rocked the boxes of Andrew Weatherall, Horse Meat Disco, Bill Brewster, Gilles Peterson, Bjørn Torske and countless others.
As his musical tastes have widened with age and sonic wisdom, so have his productions, beating a path to the Stubb project. 2019 saw two limited edition 12’s featuring Jane Weaver, Tunng’s Mike Lindsay and Huw Costin that have gone on to become digger’s delights.
Now the deep, cosmic and left-of-centre debut album ‘Canopy’ arrives, taking influence from dub, Africa, psychedelia, soundtrack, electronica, bass and Balearic. Found sounds infuse the album, from the sonic mayhem of Varanasi to the dawn chorus in Haven Wood as they blend with studio wizardry, vintage analogue kit and live sessions. The result is a blurring of genres and boundaries to create the Stubb sound.
The album is themed around the concept of trees and woods offering a safe haven in these time of climate catastrophe, offering refuge, wisdom, comfort, peace, shelter and solution.
Psych-folk goddess Jane Weaver provides ethereal vocals on ‘We Are Launching’, a beautiful song set to hypnotic guitar that aims straight at the stars with arpeggiators and cosmic synths.
London poet Sirius Rush weaves his themes and words through ‘On The Nature of Light’, a track of psychedelic electronica that is heavy and trippy in equal measure.
‘Love Not Sex’ features Nottingham’s Huw Costin and Rachel Foster to deliver the most blissed out Balearic track of the album. 70s folk, MOR and nu-disco can all be heard in a live track to stir the soul.
‘Instant Karma’ has Kathy Diamond singing over a throbbing sub bass, dark synths and live drums. It’s moody and soulful in equal measures.
‘Haven Woods’ freeform drums lock into a groove over a bubbling arp, vocal snippets and digital pads. Effects and synths flow in and out as the track builds to reach a crescendo of joy and intensity.
Philopappos features Leilani singing in her native Japanese over distorted guitars, heavy snares, a pinch of dubstep, clouds of drone and rave synth to top things off nicely.
‘Boring Days’ puts Tunng’s Mike Lindsay through the studio mangler and presses the button named ‘digidub’, injecting reggae bass, Balearic synths and lots of delay, delay, delay.
You’d think Stubb couldn’t get any deeper when ‘Galleons Lap’ and its analogue bass and broken beats begin to hypnotise, cushioned with dreamy piano and wistful chord progressions.
‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ gets a full re-rub with shimmering percussion, Rhodes and heavy sub that takes the classic song into previously un-chartered territory.
Finally ‘The Love You Once Regret’ featuring Sylvette’s Charlie Sinclair sounds like The Cinematic Orchestra have dug their vintage synths out of the cupboard and had a bit of fun. Otherworldly and psychedelic, the rhythms and tempo climb steadily up to the end chorus as it explodes into a firework of blissful melodies.