ToffoBean - Afternoon's in a Warm Embrace - Stereo Stickman

ToffoBean Afternoon’s in a Warm Embrace


Dust to Deity starts this listening experience off with a peacefully uplifting and lightly energizing soundscape – a multi-layered fusion of jazz and hip hop, down-tempo but motivational in the same instance. It’s a feel good piece of music, brilliantly well crafted to the point that it offers an impressive level of detail but still flows out smoothly – like a familiar but freshly poured wine. And so the entrancing experiencing that is Afternoon’s in a Warm Embrace begins, being every bit as comforting as the title promises.

Abide in the Heart redirects the mood to the more spacious and thoughtful, a short and delicate piece, newly softened instrumentation guides you through. Afterwards, the rhythm and funk of You always want what you can’t have reminds you to get up and work for whatever it is – despite the title, the music gives you a sense of possibility or strength to overcome. The featured vocals here bring a dash of soul into the mix, soon evolving to sound not unlike the jazz-cafe or RnB hits of the nineties. A beautiful song that lets you appreciate the human touch but that also plays well as the backdrop to whatever it is that you’re busy with. In this case, it’s an easy pleasure to write about.

Elsewhere on the album eclecticism continues but only in the sense that as a playlist it keeps you interested – keeps things moving, keeps the colours and the energy changing before you. Nico’s Beat offers a pipe-driven, world-music inspired ambiance that comes through as blissfully on point at this time. The beat is perfectly in tune with the delicacy of the instrumentation, creating a clever balance between the organic and the electronic worlds. Let your mind wander freely here, almost as if in deep meditation. Think Lemon Jelly or early Faithless, without the hip hop vocals.

Let’s Get Lost furthers the mellow vibe but introduces a smokey jazz-bar aura, surrounding you with multiple cascading, reverb-soaked elements in a dream-like, ultimately calming manner. Even during these waves of smooth audio, the musicianship and the precision is worth appreciating – the balance always seems to fit the mood of the music perfectly well. Need You picks up the rhythm and clarity a little, the piano can be heard vibing along to the soundscape, the jazz element still breathes through it all, there’s a subtle touch of nostalgia or retro musicality in some of the building blocks.

Peace Like That brings a smile-inducing energy to the collection, there’s distant funk and soul once again – all skillfully woven into the mix. Blue Noir follows and thickens the beat, takes you back through time to those smokey back streets in between clubs. There’s a cool kind of darkness lingering behind the music, which works in a seductive and fitting way at this point in the project.

Kirchwasser reintroduces brightness and optimism, but it does so in a smooth and confident, almost cocky way. This section of the album feels necessarily different to the first – as if we’ve moved into the later depths of the night. The musicality continues to impress and keep things interesting, which isn’t always easy with instrumental music. This album is designed to be the backdrop to your daily life, but by all accounts, it also works as a source of escapism to be focused in on and embraced.

Moon Tan feels like a classic hip hop track for the summer, soaked in just enough of those alternative influences to really make the moment feel valuable. There’s character here, infectious rhythm and a general sense of joyfulness. The lyrics add a welcomed dynamic. Hold onto this feeling afterwards brings through one of the most memorable beats and chord progressions of the whole playlist. Despite its smooth and deeply mellow vibe, it’s an immediately recognisable soundscape even just the second time you hear it. The title works in unison with the aura and soul of the developing music. It’s a peaceful moment leading you blissfully into the last few minutes of the experience.

You could easily choose any track from this collection to escape among for a few minutes when the day gets too heavy. For the full effect though, I recommend switching off the world and switching on the album for the thirty minutes or so that it whole-heartedly offers.

The Orange Grove finishes things up with a hugely energizing piece of music and performance that feels set to get you up and out there enjoying life. A great way to round up the playlist, smooth and professional at every step, musically fine-tuned to a consistently impressive level.

This album, this playlist in full, is the perfect thing to accompany a laid back evening watching the sunset. Or even, at the other end of the cycle – to wake you up in the hopeful mood required to carry good vibes with you all day long.

ToffoBean is Dougie McAuley & Phil O’Shea. Find & follow them on Facebook. Visit the label Rubber Taxi’s Website for more information.

Rebecca Cullen

Founder & Editor

Founder, Editor, Musician & MA Songwriter

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