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Stumptone

Though Stumptone calls Fort Worth home, it's easy to pick up on their Denton heritage. One listen to their long-awaited Gravity Suddenly Released is all it takes to hear how perfectly they straddle the divide between the reeling psychedelia of Denton's space-rock yesteryear and the chicken-fried folkie roots music of today's Cowtown. They reach for the cosmos, yet somehow manage to keep one foot planted in the dirt.

This division is especially pronounced on the opening title track, which starts out with lazily strummed acoustic guitar and harmonica over a bit of slide guitar in the background. But the earthy instrumentation abruptly gives way to heavily distorted electric guitar, melodica and electronic noise. The following song, "Precipice," pulls a similar trick with quiet, ethereal vibes, acoustic and slide guitars and hushed, distant feedback that gradually intensifies until the drums suddenly kick in. Next, the nasty guitar lick and frantic drumming of "Halfforgotten" all but leap from the speakers until the song winds down to leave behind only the sound of short-wave radio chatter and cymbals.

The lyrics frequently refer to movement, whether that means travel, falling or, as in the title track, floating. The restless instrumentation suits this kinetic theme. As soon as you're accustomed to one sound, it is pushed aside by another. Throughout the album, overdriven organs, samples, sound effects and fuzzy, tremolo- and reverb-laden electric guitars interrupt—or get interrupted by—the terrestrial sounds of steel strings, trumpets and harmonica. Yet, as jarring as these sonic rocket-launches and crash landings can be, each one feels like exactly what the song needs right at that very moment. Gravity was a long time in the making, but this psychedelic masterpiece was worth the wait.

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