A look at Stone Giants' 'West Coast Love Stories'
Colin Benson |
The latest offering from Amon Tobin, “West Coast Love Stories” the debut album under his new moniker Stone Giants, a powerful voyage exploring the vicissitudes of love through relations of voice and machine from an altogether different perspective.
Amon Tobin’s sound, spanning over 25 years, has consistently been setting the pace of sonic exploration and musical adventurism. Falling right into place, Stone Giants surface after years of development. It is not a side project, each alias is vital and has its own distinguished sound. Collectively Amon's aliases have been purposely measured to align parallel to shape each other. A few years ago he formed Nomark Records to unveil his diverse expeditions of electronic music. We first saw - Nomark release in 2019, Fear In A Handful of Dust and Long Stories, two ambient electronic albums stylistically different under his own name. To follow, the birth of Only Child Tyrant came to be, with an electronic rock album Time To Run in the same year. The long-awaited Two Finger’s album Fight! Fight! Fight! released in 2020 under his hip hop-inspired modern bass music alias. Figueroa, his most recent alias before Stone Giants, was revealed in 2020 as well, a leftfield latin psych folktronica album The World As We Know it. Carving and crafting electronic music for the majority of his life, an absolute adept of sound cultivating, with his boundless music ingenuity, has long established his reputation as one of the most visionary electronic producers of our time.
Stone Giants opening title track “West Coast Love Stories” allures you right in, introducing itself to you, elegantly drifting you through unidentified territory. Amon’s entrancing vocals “You can see right in” along with the lush chords graciously welcome you into the transcendent realm of Stone Giants fitting so well. Simultaneously the warm imaginative fields of sounds convey rich emotions of welcoming love. “You and me and the sky and the sea” vocals unite with you. Its romantic gentle grace presents a tale of what’s to come.
The prevalence of love cascades throughout the album, a feeling undefinable, and the depths of each story expresses the essence of its uncertainty. “Metropole” signals in with trembling synth work sending shivers down your spine. The disarray of mystique vocals leaving you bemused by the message lost in translation. Indecipherable yet they stride along with the rhythm of the shuddering synth work in a melodic manner to a point you start to understand its divine significance. Despite the intensity of the track, it builds a promising emotion of hope. An unworldly impression that we will overcome our despair.
“A Year To The Day” is a story of your phone invading you with notifications of memories left adrift whether they were to sink or stay afloat. The whimsical chords play in an unbalanced ominous manner until Amon’s vocals come into the picture.
“So, it’s a day that you know pictures of your own” transports you to old memories dangled on the edge of rain or shine. Nonetheless, the memory is there and we still turn the page back to it. The beholder has the power to relinquish or hold close to the heart. “Year ago, to the day hearts were left as stone”.
A bright melody chimes in while the familiar Figueroa guitar strums your way. “Best Be Sure” The obvious core of the track being the guitar is dismantled and reassembled by Stone Giants in a refreshing new way. The track brings forth such a heartwarming feeling as if you’re striding through the park taking in all the scenery and becoming appreciative of it all.
You’re walking home from the park contemplating everything you experienced over the day and dreading it to be over. The melodic ambience of “A Well Run Road” attaches to the previous experience bringing cohesiveness to it all. This reminiscent feeling comes to an end and is introduced by the second instrumental track of the album.
“Stinson Beach” the echoing synths create a sense of uplifting atmosphere that’s very calming. You’re unsure of where you’re going but know it’s not coming to an end. The Stinson Beach shore breeze brushes against your face, although the sun does not appear, clouded by the mist surrounding you. The air is full of life, you can smell it, taste it and feel it. As if you’re taking a deep breath, exhaling shortly after while gazing at the view.
The previous two tracks harmonize the entire composition and guide you to the next foreboding track. The tension is sprawled throughout the first half of the album and is finally released in “Fairweather”. The ensuing aura is plucked away at the guitar strings and collapses, muffled around you. “Oh Taking you away, Take it all / Here's to you fairweather friend, I'll look for you until the end” thus unknowingly leaving you heavy-hearted, perplexed by the words. The apparent insignificance of the lyrics impacts you appreciably more allowing your imagination to run wild.
The prevailing winds cease, and the dust has settled. Here comes “ The Girl With The Great Ideas (That I Steal)”. The sun slowly starts to appear in the distance as serene tones flow about intently until the tender bassline comes in. Gliding exquisitely it proceeds to a quick abrupt stop with a shearing harsh synth catching you off guard. The soothing tones continue, progressively pushed with more detail but slowly drown out to a meaningfully dark end.
Behold, your back again, cycling through the continuum of love in unison with the strings of “Dad’s Big Camping Trip”. Cruising along with the trees deep in the forest as the sun barely peeks through. Resonating with the smooth melody of the vocal ease along with the forgoing rhythm you’re left in pure bliss, enjoying every second of it. You get lost in the moment as you continue forward.
The final track “All Of The Pillows” tethers it all together and gently sends the listener coasting away to the mass of lavish pillows. Dreams of the unspoken await you as the lethargic synths descend upon your ears. The eerie yet composed nature of the track truly abstracts the sensation into a gem.
West Coast Love Stories undoubtedly is one of the most formidable yet marvellous projects out this year, compelling the listener's perception of love. Stone Giants marks the beginning of a new chapter. Remarkably becoming a new favorite of Amon’s many aliases. Amon Tobin once again affirms his limitless creativity and vision to persist in experimentation within sound.