The Bathtub Sophist is the nom de plume for New Zealand musician Arron Stewart. It’s true to say that his mix of nature samples and “sublime sonic storytelling” is quite commonplace nowadays but his uncomplicated approach turns out to be rather refreshing.
‘Rise And Shine’ opens, quite appropriately, with a rooster’s cry. It’s a brief, one-minute piece but it sets the tone for a record which is happy in its outlook. ‘Fledglings’ balances summery guitars and classically-inspired keyboards with bird song, then the beats kick in and convert a pleasant tune in to something really rather moving. Stewart is no stranger to dabbling in genres either. To this end, ‘Bask’ experiments with dub whilst ‘The Tribe’ toys with African rhythms but both are arranged in Stewart’s usual warm, playful style.
‘Main Crop: Vol 1’ isn’t one of those ambient records with an undercurrent of melancholy and its samples (bird song, insects) could be deemed fairly obvious. Yet despite the apparent lack of mystery or depth to Stewart’s music, his approach is always centred on melody. Best of all, for the curious, this release is free to download too.