Douglas Appling, better known to electronic music aficionados as Emancipator, quickly rose to become one of my favorite producers of the genre. So it makes perfect sense that I'd have an interest in any music released on his own label, Loci Records. Tor's 2012 release Drum Therapy fit alongside Emancipator's releases perfectly in mixing downtempo electronic with hip hop influenced beats and live instrumentation. And that trend continues with the first 2015 release from the label, Beyond Stolen Notes by producer/multi-instrumentalist Stèv.
Stèv is Stefano Fagnani who hails from Ancona, Italy. His first work for Loci was the 2013 Elsewhere EP, a five track release that is also worth seeking out. Much like on that EP, he is responsible for producing, performing and recording the majority of his first full length. Beyond Stolen Notes fits the mold of what Appling has established with his label. There is a mixture of ambient, downtempo and chilled sounds, but plenty of beats, organic instrumentation and vocal loops and samples as well.
In fact, although far from dance music in any sense of the word, Stèv's music is, at times, designed to get you moving. Tracks like "Kodama No Matsuri" and "Origami Flower" up the BPM's a bit while still retaining the other worldly feel of the album. "Hills Are Floating" was my introduction to Stèv's music and it remains a favorite on the album. Water effects, slowed down vocal samples and a relaxing vibe of the Orient help build this track into a must hear.
There are plenty of other peaceful moments on Beyond Stolen Notes. "New Lands Discovery" has a laid back groove, "Urbinian" floats on a bed of guitar, chimes and keyboards, "While You're Fading" features lovely cello work from Springintgut and "Bamboo Delays", a collaboration with Lorenzo Nada who records as Godblesscomputers, may just be my favorite track on the album with its soulful vibe.
In his bio, Stèv makes note that his music is influenced by the places he has traveled to, people he has met and the many different experiences in his life to date, and that is undeniably captured in this music. Beyond Stolen Notes transports you to wherever you'd like to get away to. It's a wonderful soundtrack to both a gorgeous spring day or a chilly winter evening. I'd highly recommend you get lost in it for awhile.
Favorite tracks: "Hills Are Floating", "Bamboo Delays", "Urbinian", "While You're Fading"
Beyond Stolen Notes was released as a Digital Download only May 18th, 2015 via Loci Records. It has also been released on vinyl via Megaphone Records.