Amber’s Stuff: about as drab and devastating and poignant as a title of a breakup album can be. The preoccupation here is not with Amber the person, but what’s left of her. Those lingering morsels of a person burns, confiscating space with a cold and concerted shrug. The ideation, the totemic models of Amber’s Stuff — such a tough, gruff word — is the basis for every song, despite the songs never feeling particularly down. In fact, if anything, these songs are loungy, 90s house numbers without a single connection to anything other than the listener’s familiarity with the sounds of said genres. But the kicker is that this distance between method of coping and object of desire/pain is largely the point. SFV Acid copes absolutely any way he can, the only way he can: by using his distinguishing and extremely personal approach to music-making to both express and deal.
Breakup albums — albums of longing, of romantic pining — are by and large the most frequent in music, but Amber’s Stuff is quite different. Let’s sit with the genres: “house” and “lounge.” These two names indicate an action, a proverbial situation. Strewn together and laid out: he is in his “house,” “lounging.” This is where he encounters the objects — Amber’s Stuff &mdahs; or maybe their absence. Slow and gathering, methodically paced, “Fage Kisses” is the first of many lost tangible things simultaneously dangled before and taken away from him. The pain lingers in a vicious cycle. Second track “Cheddar Mercedes” hits with an incredible exactness. The track materializes the memory, using modes of electronic music, blasts of white noise, transient organ chords, speedily battered percussion to embody the cheddar-yellow Mercedes that he probably had an unspeakable amount of rides in, each containing their own register of joy/pain.
And yet the record as a whole is beautiful and affirming. Each dry title — “Dirty Martini,” “Bejeweled iMac” — reveals a new moment, leading the listener through another system of dynamic hi-hits and soaring acid licks. The use of resonance, the circling of headphone space, is another factor in positioning the listener. Final track “And No Stress” takes the outer ring of resonant frequencies and builds upon them until a full, circuitous space has been carved. Spongy and lilting bass lines, doused in toms and spectral synth melodies, shows him creating a space with which he can regain emotional footing.
90s house has always projected an image of a pink-carpeted, saucy loft for me; equally so, lounge appropriately casts a vision of bachelor pads of tomorrow. Both provide a setting in which we can see him lie, eat, “lounge,” and ultimately ache. This in my mind becomes a decidedly relational practice: to relate SFV Acid’s space of living and space of mind, and then drape the listener in the golden-hued, glistening tracks that rose from them. For his previous album, The Dwell, which was made completely in a Starbucks, I expounded on his use of Suzanne Ciani-like sound design, the unfurling and enveloping nature of “I Am Sitting in a Room.” On Amber’s Stuff, SFV Acid takes these ideas further, constructing an imagined world of objects, a fully functional model of his — and what is frankly a universal — experience. He is hurt, and this hurt has generated his space to cope.