Plum Lovers is the long-distance duo of longtime friends Ruby Mars and Austyn Wohlers and their debut, Stone to Liquid, is an intoxicating mix of spacious tones and evolving textures. First collaborating via remote Twitch streams, they swapped files back and forth to create the mystifying yet enchanting world of Stone to Liquid. Plum Lovers’ focused drone snippets are an intertwined sonic ecosystem that breathes, grows, and withers away only to rise again beneath purple skies.
Mars and Wohlers blur the line where the mechanical plane ends and the organic one begins, melting disparate timbres into sinuous flowing shapes. “Sketch 2” has this fantastic mix of elongated synth tones and rumbling, almost-aqueous percussion roiling beneath. It’s like being stuck in the claustrophobic space between two worlds, unsure of where to move next, but fixated on these duel points. Anxiety peaks in the windows, but the flashes of verdant color reflecting through glass keep the apprehension at bay.
Searching guitar lines cut shallow trenches in the soil of “Sketch 4,” releasing an emotional current into the swirling ether of electric pads and dripping birdsong. Melancholy lingers, but the yearning emits warmth, feeling at home in the quiet. “Sketch 1” opens Stone to Liquid with an invitation to come in from the fizzling rain and sit around a glowing orb of jewel-encrusted reverie. Plum Lovers don’t simply create new worlds with sound, they want listeners to feel at ease within them.
Calling five of the six pieces on Stone to Liquid ‘sketches’ does them a bit of disservice. It suggests they’re just fragments or works-in-progress, but together they are much greater than the sum of their parts. It tracks, then, that album closer, the title track, opens an alluring portal into the next phase of evolution. A repeating bass drone oscillates hypnotically beneath the floor, pushing listeners forward at a steady pace while ethereal synths glisten and flute notes flutter like diamonds in the air. It’s an introspective space, beautiful in its tissue paper delicacy with arms open and ready for the next step. Plum Lovers are very much onto something.