Ravines moves at a relaxed tempo, but it's one of Stuffco's most danceable records. It's bursting with the newfound energy of his last EP, Look At My Car!—that record's lush instrumentation and strutting grooves carries over to Ravines. The luminous glow of "La Bellaca" is an early highlight and a fine example of the album's mix of chilled-out vibes and knotty songwriting. Zippy synth lines wriggle up and down as proggy guitar chords move in unexpected directions. The effect is jarring until you settle into the groove—the Carlos Santana-esque guitar solo that worms through the track's second half is more than enough of a reward for sticking with it.
Other parts of Ravines are more straightforward. The title track moves with an easygoing swing. The charming “Après-MIDI” is as toasty as a post-slopes hot chocolate. That track's harp glissandos are a lighthearted touch. Stuffco has a knack for layering synthetic textures, like a patchwork woven from garish nylon fabrics, and making it sound intuitive. "First Stomp," another standout, features a funk bassline, hyperactive synth soloing and wordless vocals all twisting and twirling around each other.
Stuffco's music as Jex Opolis has always featured extended synth runs, solos and funk band flourishes. These elements are more succinct on Ravines. Where past Jex Opolis records feel improvised and explore an idea for seven or eight minutes, these tracks are tightly arranged. Of the many Western Canadians whose music has a laidback jazz sound, Stuffco may be among the best—his virtuosic sensibilities call back to the heyday of the 1980s Minneapolis funk scene. On Ravines, his music feels almost perfectly executed—tight without being rigid, musical without being wanky, full of details but not dense. It's fluid from beginning to end, but that shouldn't be a surprise: Stuffco is one of the smoothest guys out there.