BVDUB - "The Art Of Dying Alone" CD Digipack - Glacial Movements Records - 2010
Woah....how to kill my happy mood. Dying alone - now theres a thought. Better move onto the music. Bvdub has been part of the Pop Ambient series and the words Gas and dub techno are mentioned in the press thingymajig so I'm quite excited about this. It certainly lives up to the billing with superb drifty atmospherics, plucked acoustic guitar hidden somewhere under it all. Tracks seem to start with traditional sounding instruments plucked in a gently folky style before reverberating away into ethereal and ambient soundscapes. At its best such on the stunning 'To Finally Forget it all' the effect is akin to being carried along on some kind of cloud/cotton wool type material, the music resembling a softer Gas, dub techno rhythms just audible beneath the ambient gorgeousness. Really beautiful stuff & highly recommended.
Brock van Wey is bvdub, and hails from San Francisco. He has had releases on Millions of Moments, Echospace, Smallfish, Styrax, and Kompakt (on the 'Pop Ambient 2010 CD). This work was written and produced in Shaoxing, China and uses a variety of instruments: piano, acoustic guitar, violin and female voices. I am not sure if Van Wey plays all of these himself, or wether he uses digital variations thereof (say Garageband, or samples from orchestral works). It seems clear that these instruments are then processed inside the computer and blended together. The label Glacial Movements is known for releasing all things ambient and drone related, and this work by bvdub is no different. If anything, that mentioning of 'Pop Ambient 2010' should draw you into the direction which this goes. There are similarities to be spotted between the work of bvdub and say Gas (Wolfgang Voigt's erstwhile moniker for ambient music, and compiler of 'Pop Ambient'). It has the same stretched out fields of orchestral like sounds, with a very vague kind of pumping 'something' (to avoid the word 'rhythm') behind it, buried, away, down under. Its music that fits exactly a warm summer evening, when the evening becomes night, dark becomes darker, and this music kindly tinkers away in the background and you sip your wine. Nothing under the sun (that slowly sinks below the horizon right now), but bvdub shows some excellent skills to walk the same path and to show us things we may have not noticed before. Nice one indeed. (FdW)
The tranquil soundscapes of his current oeuvre may occasionally suggest otherwise, but change rather than consistency has been the most important factor in the life of Brock van Wey. Classically trained on the Piano and Violin as a boy, he quickly found himself in want of more radical forms of expression. Death-Metal, with its unfiltered aggression and furious power, turned into a first focus. It was soon to be replaced by the overwhelming sense of community and uplifting energy found in the Deep House and Trance scene. In 2001, however, disgusted by the downward spiral of all but everything that had attracted him to it in the first place, van Wey chucked in his job as a DJ, sold his entire record collection and moved to China.
It was the spontaneous realisation of a life-long fascination for a country that had always seemed to him the one place on earth which could offer him peace of mind. His plan didn't turn out to be quite as healing as expected. But it did allow him to step back from what happened, re-start his life from scratch and discover the things that truly meant something to him. Needless to say, music was still among them. The subsequent founding of his Quietus-imprint, the genesis of his bdvub-project as well as the increasingly prolific string of releases under that moniker all point to a man emerging from the void with newly found passion and will. If van Wey should now deal with the „art of dying“ at a point in time when his second coming is in full bloom, then this is merely the logical conclusion of continuous strife for a right way to live.
In a sense, too, „The Art of Dying Alone“ is the organic culmination of a work forever spiralling around themes of isolation, the strength found in solitude and the eternal riddle of „where to now“. Van Wey knows there is no clear-cut rational answer to these questions, but by returning to them again and again, he is circling a spiritual truth offering inner calm and consolation. This constant mulling-over of the same issues may also explain the compositional processes at the heart of the album: Minimal loops, mostly comprising of a short melodic or rhythmical statement, gradually grow into dense textures washed over by wave after wave of soft electronic pads and choral voices, until their underlying sense of motion is all but canceled out.
Slowly but surely, the listener's attention is directed from thematic spikes to the inner development of a piece and the delicate interaction between its different layers: Call-and-response patterns, subtle shifts in loop-structure, the appearance and dying-down of tiny acoustic elements, ghost melodies created by the overlap of two adjacent textures. Time, as a medium through which the music flows with utmost grace and patience, is left to do most of the work and it is paradoxically by taking elements away rather than adding some, that climaxes are achieved: A momentous epiphany occurs towards the end of „No More Reason Not to Fall“, when van Wey suddenly silences the main voices, leaving his audience with nothing but a trace of rhythm and the beguiling cobweb of sustained tones underneath, hypnotically closing out the track with several minutes of torrential sweetness.
The pointed simplicity of these structures is belied by the unerringly precise arrangements, which act as a summary of van Wey's long and winding musical path. Most notably, as with previous allusions to his classical background, he has organised „The Art of Dying Alone“ as a tone-poem-like, almost 80-minute-long epic for an electroacoustic chamber music ensemble composed of guitar, piano, vocals and strings, whose tendency towards timbral coherency and warmth lends the album an air of both solemn and sensuous concentration. At the same time, there are references to his involvement with dance and house. „To Finally Forget it All“ could just as well be a trance-tune slowed down to the pulse-rate of a dreamer, the four-to-the-floor bass drum turning into a poetic heartbeat. A triangle of influences is thus manifesting itself around the axis of Contemporary Composition, Ambient and Electronica, held together by the gravitational force of a twin-peaked tension-arch: Even though aforementioned „To Finally Forget it All“ seemed to have brought things to resolution at around half time, van Wey arrives at the conclusion that the journey isn't over yet. For a full forty more minutes, he dives back into the ocean of oblivion, this time finally finding consolation at the shores of the closing title track.
Whether or not, as a listener, you'll derive the same kind of appeasement from the experience depends greatly on your involvement. A lot here is communicated between the lines, transmitted in morse code which requires active participation to be deciphered. Beauty, in the sense of a focus on mere aesthetics, does not seem to be of any relevance. On the contrary, those looking underneath the surface will find that the album consciously plays with motivic ruptures, just as steady lines are constantly broken apart into stuttering, skipping and asymmetrical repetitions. Life doesn't move with picture-perfect precision, van Wey seems to say, and meaning is not something you're given for free. His unconventional CV awards him some natural authority in these matters, but at heart, the message of „The Art of Dying Alone“ is one of universal applicability in these complex times: In a life that eschews rationale logic, constant change really is the only way to attain some form of consistency.
By Tobias Fischer - TOKAFY
ROCK A ROLLA issue 27
What separates bvdub's work from many other producers working in the same field is that something feels like it's on the line. There's no concept, no explanation that needs to be given about the materials used in its construction. Brock van Wey seeks to create a direct line with the listener. It's emotional, and nakedly so. What else would you expect from a guy who titles songs "I Knew Happiness Once" and "Wish I Was Here"?
Depressing stuff, but Van Wey's work has always had a light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel quality. Every minor piano chord has a tinkling harp coming along (relatively) soon after to brighten things up. On his newest album, The Art of Dying Alone, this now includes the human voice more than ever before, even further underlining van Wey's humanistic bent. They never quite get to say anything intelligible. But that should come as no surprise really. In RA's interview with van Wey last year, he touched on the topic of imagined utopias. To have them say anything in particular would break the spell, and take away from what you think they might be singing.
Instead, they act like the bvdub standbys—the lulling pianos, the cumulus synths, the gently plucked guitars. Just another source of material to pile into the inexorable droning waves of sound. Those waves are reminiscent of some of Pop Ambient's original contributors—Markus Guentner, Ulf Lohmann, Dettinger—which take techno's belief in the power of repetition and maps it onto ambient's cooler sound palette. You can still hear traces of van Wey's beat-centric work in the pulsing momentum that is underlying much of Dying Alone.
It seems beside the point to describe in depth any of the tracks here. (Again, the spell.) But it's worth noting that van Wey clearly cuts the album in half—"To Finally Forget It All" and the title track provide a sort of closure. They're both around 20 minutes long, and rank among the producer's finest work to date, similar to the mammoth CD "single" To Live. "Finally" relentlessly pushes its gleaming elements forward, adding another unbearably emotional element every few minutes or so. "Dying Alone" comes in parts, climaxing in a beautiful mess of human voices. It's all essential material from one of the few artists working in this milieu that sounds relevant in 2010.
Avendo come premesse da un lato la
matrice concettuale "ghiacciata" alla quale è improntata l'etichetta Glacial
Movements e, dall'altro, le produzioni del cerimoniere ambient-dub-techno
Brock Van Wey, non può che suscitare grande curiosità la pubblicazione da
parte della label romana del nuovo, corposo lavoro a firma Bvdub.
ambient 8.4 Bvdub es el seudónimo del músico Brock Van Wey originario de San Francisco. Ya tiene en su haber varios discos EPs y colaboraciones en varios recopilatorios, aparece por ejemplo en “Pop Ambient”  el sampler de ambient del prestigiado sello alemán Kompact y que fuera una curaduría de Wolfgang Voigt (aka Gas).“The Art of Dying Alone”, incluso dentro del ambient, es un disco atmosférico y etéreo, con grandes pasajes de una quietud pasmosa. Esto es logrado con una combinación entre sonidos acústicos, generados por piano, guitarras, violines, coros de voces femeninas y esto es mezclado con bases delicadas de ambientes sonoros digitales. Brock Van Wey actualmente vive en Shaoxing, China desde donde compuso y conceptualizó esta nueva entrega. Un álbum muy hermoso que puede ser una referencia perfecta para escuchar lo que está haciendo la elite del ambient por estos días.
“Mike (Remote_) said to me once early on
that this scene is a tough place for someone who wears their heart on their
sleeve. He's right. I found that out the hard way long ago. But all you can
do is continue on in the way you think is right, and hope that you make a
positive mark on the world. Remaining personal will never be difficult for
me, because it's all I know. And I wouldn't trade that for all the notoriety
or success in the world”, these heartfelt words which epitomize the essence
of music in our lives as a purveyor and dissolution of emotions and feelings
which can’t be shaken off easily expressed the veneration of Brock Van Wey
for the deeply personal music he was creating and appreciating in an
interview for Resident Advisor. Brock Van Wey a.k.a. Bvdub has been creating
quintessential, soul stirring, emotionally purging, haunting and lustrously
tantalising music right from his techno releases (2008’s synth sybaritic No
Turning Back EP being an example) to the last year’s phosphorescent glow of
‘White Cloud Drift On and On’ which combined the imputes of Gas,
spirituality and African chants and flush-seamed it to create a feathery and
fluffy texture that granted emotional comfort to the melancholia and
pleasure that knew no bounds; it’s the sort of music where you can feel his
heartbeat through the substance of it. ‘White clouds Drift On And On’, which
was a reflection of the struggles he had with the rave scene that had got
commercialised and that had been stripped off its purity right in front of
his eyes and the consequent journey of leaving it all behind to lead a life
of solitude in China and coming to terms with it all, had this quality of
self redemption and exploration of pain and time as a healer. This ulterior
motive is also the basis of this new overwhelming and compelling record ‘The
Art Of Dying Alone’.
It should be noted, just in case, that marine discs, trembling and more fragile than fine china, can also work without the involuntary help of Justin Bieber, if need be. A long time ago, Brock Van Wey shook off the obsession with sounding like a diligent student of Basic Channel and ordered the hype, with very good reason, to go to hell. Since then, everything that he publishes (on his label, Quietus, and on others like Echospace [Detroit] and now on a small Italian label) sounds like an excess of clouds, like the flow of streams, like nirvana as it’s drawn for us by the mystics: that infinite peace and softness, the massage with an ending (not happy, mind you, but sublime apotheosis). Aware that this has come off sounding like proselytizing from the Age of Aquarius, it should be noted that "The Art Of Dying Alone" is not intended to convey comfort, but the morbid side of rest, when a leg stretches and becomes worm feed. Something traumatic must have happened to Bvdub to record an album that Acheron would listen to if, while on the boat crossing the River Styx, there was a parrot; and despite some moments when there is more guitar and piano, the result is one of those eerily ambient albums that erase any sense of the passing of time.
Giunta alla sua ottava uscita, la
romana Glacial Movements conferma di essere una delle etichette ambient
migliori sulla scena mondiale.
Albums of the Month
Bvdub: The Art of Dying Alone
Devotees of Brock Van Wey's recent output under his own name and his Bvdub alias—the double-disc opus White Clouds Drift On and On and We Were The Sun, issued on Stephen Hitchell's Echospace and Van Wey's own Quietus imprints, respectively—will find themselves swooning once again while listening to The Art of Dying Alone. The nearly eighty-minute collection must be considered a coup of sorts for the Glacial Movements label, given the rapturous response Van Wey's work has generated recently (that rise in profile exemplified by his inclusion on the 2010 edition of Kompakt's Pop Ambient series). Written and produced in Shaoxing, China, the new release doesn't depart dramatically from the style of its precursors, but that's no cause for complaint. Don't be thrown by the resigned tone of titles such as “To Finally Forget It All” and “The Art of Dying Alone” either; what Van Wey's conjured here are six ethereal soundscapes of epic grandeur.
So how's it sound? After an arresting piano introduction, “Nothing From No One” blossoms into a dense droning blur of piano, electronics, and voices. Powered by hypnotic loops of vocals, acoustic guitars, and strings so oceanic one could drown in them, “No More Reasons Not To Fall” and “No One Will Ever Find You Here” are so close in spirit to the Pop Ambient prototype, it's no surprise Van Wey was asked to contribute to the recent collection. A bouyant mid-tempo techno pulse lends “To Finally Forget It All” a levity and animation that nicely complements the silken unfurl of voices and synthetic washes thatswirl so seductively around it for twenty-one minutes. Even so, the album's loveliest piece is the becalmed title track, which ends the album with nineteen ravishing minutes of supplicating female vocalizing, choir exhalations, and harp-like string patterns.
With no details about instruments listed in the credits, one makes an educated guess about the tracks' specific sound sources; at the very least, one can report that piano, acoustic guitar, strings, and angelic female voices figure prominently, and that all such sounds are blended into tantalizing clouds of ambient design. The label name Glacial Movements might suggest icy chill and isolationism but The Art of Dying Alone exudes an alluring warmth that's anything but alienating. It's another beautiful addition to Van Wey's stellar discography. September 2010
ROCKERILLA (September 2010)
Returning with his Bvdub project, San Francisco's Brock Van Wey presents his cheerily titled new album, The Art Of Dying Alone. Previously seen on Kompakt's Pop Ambient 2010 compilation, Van Wey capitalises on this growing momentum by delivering what's almost certainly his finest hour to date. The album is a shining example of its genre, an astutely constructed flow of of ambience and introspection that navigates considerable depths. With a bucketful of heavy-headed melancholy, 'Descent To The End' sets you on your way, immediately plunging you deeply into Van Wey's verdant, multi-layered musical idiom. As has previously been the case, some of the more obvious points of reference would include the likes of Gas and more recent artists in the field of flotation tank techno, such as The Sight Below. However, the almost song-like tendencies of the record unshackle the Bvdub sound from its genre forebears to some extent, as demonstrated by 'No One Will Ever Find You': an oceanic swell of female vocals, acoustic guitars and endless, frothing synth-strings - the founding ingredients for much of what's to come over the course of this album. The immense twenty-one minuter, 'To Finally Forget It All' stands out too, allowing a clicking downtempo beat to infiltrate Van Wey's luscious soundscape and line his quilt of looped guitar harmonics and misted-over choral textures with a pulsing rhythmic component. As ambient music goes, the all-round epic sonic effulgence of The Art Of Dying Alone is unusually brash, and the adherence to a specific set of sounds further imbues the album with its own specific identity within the field. Grand stuff that followers of the Pop Ambient school won't want to miss.
Brock van Wey (gewoon een Amerikaan) heeft allang de dubtechno achter zich gelaten en verdiept zich tegenwoordig in ambient, geheel in lijn met grootmeester Gas (Wolfgang Voigt), Kompakt labelgenoot Kaito en de IJslander Yagya. De voorganger ‘White Clouds Drift On And On’ was doorspekt met de Pop Ambient-sound van Kompakt. Luchtige soundscapes voor groene theedrinkers en wierookstokers met vast een paar wandelsandalen in de kast. Maar eerlijk is eerlijk, Bvdub schept uitgestrekte geluidslandschappen waar de soundscapes stromen als rivieren onder een strakblauwe hemellucht, ver verwijderd van futiliteiten als ongenoegen en negativiteit. Dit ondanks de somber gehete nummers als ‘I Knew Happiness Once’. Op ‘The Art Of Dying Alone’ gaat Bvdub op dezelfde voet verder en bestaat de droom van Wey uit zes uitgesponnen nummers waar langgerekte soundscapes, akoestisch instrumenten en echoënde vocalen wederom het verhaal vertellen van een utopische wereld die alleen bestaat in het hoofd van Bvdub. Ook hier beloven de titels op de hoes naderend onheil en tegenspoed, en heeft het geluid een verdrietige ondertoon, maar blijft het allemaal lief en mooi, als de soundtrack van een onbestaande film. Wie geen licht gitaargetokkel in zijn ambient belieft, moet niets hebben van 'The Art Of Dying Alone'. Wie zoekt naar schoonheid zonder drone en venijn, is hier juist. We schenken ondertussen nog een kop groene thee in, dat smaakt zo slecht nog niet
Auch die achte Veröffentlichung aus dem Hause Glacial Movements ist in einem sehr kühl und schön gestalteten Digipak erschienen. Das Cover des Albums „The Art of Dying Alone“ des mir bisher unbekannten Projekts BVDUB wird von einer verschneiten Strandlandschaft geziert, in der eine einsame Hütte auszumachen ist. Zwar ist auch dieses Album fast völlig instrumental gehalten, doch bereits im ersten der insgesamt sechs Titel, wird deutlich, dass trotz der weiterhin kalten, und scheinbar trostlosen Thematik der Sound irgendwie wärmer, weil etwas organischer ist, als man es bei „cold ambient“ gemeinhin erwartet. „Descent To The End“ überrascht und gefällt mir wegen der Drones und einer feine Melodieführung, wobei das Repetitive durchaus strukturbildend ist. Das zweite Stück beginnt mit Pianoklängen, die langsam zu einem Loop werden, hinter dem sich helle, aber weiterhin gar nicht zu kalte, Klangflächen entwickeln, die zunehmend in den Vordergrund ’strahlen’, gegen Ende indes wieder verschwinden: Das zarte Piano bleibt. Auch das über zwanzigminütige „To Finally Forget It All“ verbindet leise Pianoklänge mit mal mehr akustisch, mal mehr elektronisch klingenden Soundscapes, wobei der hier vorhandene Rhythmus jenes Stückes geradezu in eine Trancerichtung schweben lässt. Im weiteren Verlauf wird eine Atmosphäre hörbar, die dann gar nicht mal so weit von BOARDS OF CANADA weg ist, und man vermeint, synthetische bzw. bis ins Sphärische modulierte Stimmen zu hören, was den Hörgenuss natürlich in keiner Weise trübt. Selbst Vergleiche zu der meditativen Stimmung, die etwa bei THE THRESHOLD HOUSEBOYS CHOIR auftauchen kann, erscheinen mir nicht zu weit hergeholt, denn auch bei Titeln wie „No One Will Ever You Here“ sind es eben nicht nur ausladende Klangflächen, sondern melodische Loops und eine gewisse Rhythmik, die dieses Album zu mehr als nur ruhiger und angenehmer Hintergrundmusik machen. Und beim letzten Stück, dem Titeltrack, muss man wirklich davon ausgehen, dass man eine geradezu engelshafte Frauenstimme hört, die Klänge werden immer ätherischer und man kann meinen, dass wer hier der Kunst des „Dying Alone“ frönt, gewiss in den Himmel kommt. Dabei klingt das, was BVDUB hier an Ambient erklingen lässt, alles andere als kitschig, sondern wirklich gut. Testen! (flake777)
In the anonymous world of ambient, bvdub
aka Brock Van Wey has developed an actual physical existence over the past
few years. It’s hardly a cult of personality, but it’s relatively easy to
find interviews with him and discover the back-story for an obviously
interesting character: to be brutally reductive, San Francisco DJ becomes
disillusioned with “the scene”, sells his record collection, moves to China,
comes back, and starts to make music.
The discography of Brock Van Wey (aka Bvdub) is simply impressive. "The Art Of Dying Alone" is his first appearance on the Italian label Glacial Movements, which will for sure increase his popularity in other ambient fields. The ambient style of Bvdub isn't so cold as the title of this album may appear. This American musician went to China (Shaoxing) to compose this album. Inspired by the strength and magic of nature, he created an endless sensation of ambient music. The music sounds like a wafting on a breeze, like a feather in the wind. A kind of mystic trip throughout imaginary evasive fields leaves the listener in state of serenity. This music is the perfect medicine to cool down after a hard day of labour. A few bleeps have been added here and than while shimmering voices are sometimes like emerging from nowhere. Bvdub brings a sonic picture with a quite diversified canvas reaching a climax on "To Finally Forget It All" that will hold you in its grip for more than 21 minutes! An intriguing ambient release! (DP:7)DP.
A veces hay pequeños detalles, sin mucha explicación y más allá de lo racional, que distinguen de sus pares a los artistas que hacen un tipo particular de música. Al parecer es el caso de Brock Van Wey, alias bvdub. El prolífico y misterioso productor comenzó en el dub tecno, pero en cada nuevo trabajo fue encariñándose más con lo atmosférico y etéreo de su sonido. The Art of Dying Alone (título que define a la perfección su postura creativa) es el epítome de sus búsquedas ambientales: una fórmula que varios exponentes actuales adoptan, aunque Van Wey la lleva a niveles de emoción y sentimiento difíciles de describir. Es delicado, desolador y melancólico con un talento innato. Pero, en toda esa oscuridad aparente, un rayo de luz parece tocar la fibra sensible, ésa que activa en nuestra alma esa sonrisa interna que sólo la música puede dibujar. Gabriel Reyes
Over the past year I have reviewed three albums on Glacial Movements, an label from Italy that furthers the exploration of isolationist music. The label's most recent release is The Art of Dying Alone from bvdub, who DJed in some of San Francisco's deep trance and techno raves in the 1990s before relocating to China, where he worked as a translator and recorded this album. The artist's moniker derives as a nickname from his initials (Brock van Wey) and not from any overt dub influences on his music, which in this case is a spacious ambient album of gentle loops and sustained crystalline strings and voices.
At first listen, and despite the rather bleak track titles, I found it difficult to place this album in an isolationist context. The six tracks, ranging from eight to twenty-one minutes, are all very thick and lush, languid sustained string pads often underpinned with gently moving beats. I felt that I was in the tropics rather than the glaciers. The album's instrumentation is unspecified, but wordless ethereal female vocals give tracks like No More Reasons Not To Fall a light and fluffy feeling, white clouds on a sunny day. Van Wey builds the tracks gradually from short loops on guitar, voice or piano, accumulating layer upon layer swirling into a hypnotic soup. Nothing From No One starts from gentle piano meanderings set against the background rustles of a late-night, nearly empty bar, before the last gesture loops to an infinite repeat, sustaining sounds gradually filling the spectrum, yet the original seed remains at some level of audibility. A guitar loop in No One Will Ever Find You Here shows its seams with a slight rhythmic hiccup, which propels the music forward with a sense of urgency, always slightly ahead of itself.
The title track, which closes the album, is especially poignant. The female voice is especially prominent, from the sustained choral voices in the opening to a sighing solo briefly separating herself from the crowd. Unlike the other tracks, which proceed by accumulation, the chorus here is an introduction to a harp and voice duet. The voice here almost sounds like lyrics, dancing a slow elegy with the harp and piano. This piece gets thick too, but at its height the voice is still prominent with disembodied syllables, female sibilants almost sounding like banshees above the quiet piano and sustained pads.
With all of its layered profusion, The Art Of Dying Alone is a maximal sort of isolationism. Perhaps the album's cover provides a clue. As with the other Glacial Movements releases, it's a gorgeous photo by Bjarne Riesto, but it's the first time that a Glacial Movements cover has featured any kind of human trace, a lonely fishing cabin on the edge of a snowy inlet where the artist comes to make his last work. Van Wey has captured the wistful culmination of an imagination, dying alone in a land of midnight sun.
Dying is an art, and like any other one can do it with grace or go down kicking, screaming, all the while leaving a big mess behind that future generations have to clean up. This album is supple and sexy as death itself. There is no fear in these pieces. They convey the final breaths of a human as being elegnant and peaceful. This music displaces the anxiety many people feel about death. Doing so is a service to the world. Electronic music is a wide open field and some of the territories are contested. There are many different areas and modes of activity and anyone who can run a field recording through a couple of filters and slap a few different sounds together is potentially an artist. Luckily for those who listen closely shoddy work is easily spotted. It is also simple to know the difference between clinical music that is more apt to be used for self-induced psychic surgery than that which conveys the full range and expression of human emotion. Sometimes I’m more inclined to listen to music whose theoretical underpinnings bring as much or more enjoyment than the actual piece itself. At other times I just want to tap into the raw nerve of human experience. The output of Brock van Way easily falls into this second, non-pretentious category as he creates gorgeous ambient sound worlds that are accessible, welcoming and a joy to inhabit.
Inhabit is an apt word to describe these songs. They create a cacoon and cushion of calm. Taking a break from the 21st century's frenetic pace to collect oneself is easy to do while this soundtrack is playing. It is musical medication for attention deficit disorder. It gives a person the space necessary to contemplate life from the vantage point of someone who is about to move beyond life, which holds tremendous value. Questions of purpose begin to percolate. Have I frittered away all my time chasing empty illusions? Is there something more I could have done, someone's life I could have improved, a contribution only I could have made, that I failed to? Did I express love in my relationships? Will I approach death full of regrets or with grace knowing I gave my all? There are so many people who are averse to even talking about dying and these songs create a context to open up the conversation. Contemplating death can be a powerful kick in the pants for those with no direction. I can’t count on the Singularity. My time here is limited. I should create something beautiful.
These are the types of thoughts that spin around in my head as I listen to the warm electronic textures of altered and layered voices so prevalent throughout the six long songs. The vocal elements of this disc are my favorite aspect of this recording, though the smooth curves of synth, the repetitious pulsings of delicate piano, the minimal and softly understated percussion elements that give it just enough of a beat all work in harmony together. The longest track, "To Finally Forget It All," at nearly 22 minutes creates a luxuriant atmosphere. I don’t know how Brock does it, but there are several female voices, simpering, cooing, calling out. I can’t help but think that a choir of angels or the voices of my ancestors are calling out to me from the other side, ready to greet me when my time comes.
There is a great continuity between each song. Each builds on the beauty of the previous and as a listener I sail right along. On "No More Reason Not To Fall" a looped string section fragment forms the kernel around which the voices kaleidoscopically revolve. A rattle or brushed snare drum trickles in the background. A dissonant element gradually comes to fore giving the piece an abundant sense of gravity and urgency. Things are peaceful again with fluid acoustic guitar inflections on the next song. The title track closes the album with another epic long player. The sounds cascade reminding me of water falls, the roar of the ocean surf crashing against a slew of granite rocks. But the tide goes back out in the end, leaving with a sprinkling of piano and a lulling mellow drone.
With The Art of Dying Alone Glacial Movements have released their warmest and most inviting CD yet. This electronic music warms hearts and melts ice.
Nouveau pensionnaire du label Glacial Movements,
BVDUB manipule sons virtuels, voix féminines et
guitares acoustiques avec un sens illustratif particulièrement marqué.
Discret transfuge de la scène "deep techno", ce musicien de San
Francisco se distingue par ses compositions planantes et froides
élaborées sur des trames mélancoliques et mystérieuses. Un examen
approfondi de ce travail révèle qu'il s’appuie sur un large faisceau de
boucles minimales se transformant, peu à peu, en textures denses. Ainsi,
différentes couches sonores interagissent délicatement pour procurer à
l'auditeur un calme intérieur assurément bénéfique.
RITUAL (October-Nov 2010)
Dans Ocean Of Sound, David Toop synthétise finement la musique ambient en ajoutant quelques mots au titre "Ambient music, mondes imaginaires et voix de l’éther". Après lecture d’un tel ouvrage (que je ne peux que vous conseiller), on comprend mieux l’impact de la musique de Brian Eno sur nos songes. Trop peu d’artistes ambient arrivent à jouer subtilement avec le temps, dans l’optique de le stopper pour mieux saisir nos émotions. Bvdub fait partie de ces quelques artistes ayant compris que la musique peut aller bien plus loin que son optique initiale. Depuis quelques années, l’Américain, originaire de San Francisco, sort tranquillement ses productions rencontrant avant tout un succès d’estime (intéressante interview ici). L’an dernier, le maxi To Live avait atteint des sommets, flirtant de très près avec le sublime.
La sortie de The Art Of Dying Alone permet de retrouver Brock Van Wey sur la longueur d’un album. Et quand on dit longueur, on pèse nos mots. En effet, Bvdub n’hésite pas à dépasser les 20 minutes par morceau pour mieux étaler sa science de l’étirement sonore. The Art Of Dying Alone se compose de seulement six titres pour 70 minutes de rêveries ouatées et fantasmées.
Bvdub travaille le son de manière très personnelle, donnant l’impression que chaque nappe arrive telle une lente vague avant de disparaître sans même que l’on s’en rende compte. Le résultat est assez déroutant et pourra paraître chiant pour les oreilles non initiées. En effet, les rêves de Bvdub n’ont pas pour but de faire étalage d’une technique hors pair, ici tout est question de lenteur. Les vagues de To Finally Forget It All font ainsi lentement place à une écume persistante et emplissant progressivement la plage. Le coucher de soleil devient éternel à mesure que les nappes se superposent dans un déluge fascinant de volupté.
On sent une tristesse permanente dans les travaux de l’Américain, une tristesse échappant à l’emprise du temps, comme si chaque morceau n’était qu’un prétexte à la contemplation mélancolique. Lorsqu’un piano distribue quelques fines notes sur Nothing From No One, on pense irrémédiablement au romantisme de Debussy (que Toop cite d’ailleurs souvent en tant que précurseur de l’ambient) et la façon d’étirer indéfiniment le temps fait penser aux travaux de l’immense Keith Fullerton Whitman. Cependant, The Art Of Dying Alone pâtit indirectement de ses qualités. Les six titres ont tendances à trop se ressembler et parfois, le disque se fait redondant par manque de remise à plat.
The Art Of Dying Alone demeure un album d’ambient capable de provoquer des rêves insondables. Rien que pour cela, on ne peut que s’incliner. Bvdub demeure un artiste rare et précieux dont la musique est bien plus qu’une simple échappatoire.
"Les auditeurs flottent dans cet océan ; les musiciens sont devenus des voyageurs virtuels, les créateurs du théâtre sonique, les émetteurs de tous les signaux reçus de l’autre côté de l’éther." (D. Toop)
Parfois, l'esthétique de la pochette d'un disque ne colle pas avec la musique qu'il renferme. Ici ce n'est pas le cas. Cette très belle photographie qui peut évoquer la nature, la solitude ou la liberté par exemple, trouve son parfait écho dans la musique de The Art of Dying Alone.Six morceaux composent ce délicat album. Ces longues plages musicales (de 8 à 21 minutes), prennent leur temps et nous invitent à faire de même. Les nappes sonores se superposent, se relaient, douces et aériennes, relaxantes (pour ne pas dire régénératrices !). Le son d'un piano se mêle à d'autres sons plus synthétiques. Les mélodies sont élégantes et discrètes, lointaines ; des notes nostalgiques qui nous offrent une halte dans ces immensités glacées.
DJ-turned-ambient maestro Brock van Wey’s inclusion on Kompakt’s Pop Ambient series last year breathed some fresh air into the series, injecting sweeping drama and emotion into a collection usually content to suggest drama instead of embodying it. While his palette shares much with Pop Ambient artists like Dettinger and Markus Guentner – repetitive chunks of spring-loaded delay, heavenly synths, and slurred strings – his compositional style favors build and length more than the swirling, tidal stasis of his European counterparts. Over a number of releases both under his birth name and bvdub (a phonetical version of his initials BVW) in the last few years, van Wey has honed his very recognizable personal style in slightly varied shadings. The Art of Dying Alone comes on the heels of To Live’s somber juxtapositions of lone piano and slo-mo drone orchestrations, the foamy drones of White Clouds Drift On and On, and the serenely dreamt nostalgia of We Were the Sun. Instead of going in another specific direction, it takes the many directions van Wey has previously explored and produces a deep work of synthesis.
Lead-off track “Descent to the End” begins the album ominously enough, with ghostly synth figures escaping from the organic matter of a plucked guitar in the saddest moment on the album. But once the truth of death is established, the art of dying can begin, and the remainder of the album plays out on a more ethereal continuum with deep washes of synth and understated guitar patterns. Sadness and mourning are colored by the impending unreality of personal annihilation as death lays waste to memory and perception, the machines of selfhood. Some perceptions are ramped up to super-saturated levels, while others gleam at a distance as if under glass. Memory follows a few well worn loops, ruminating on the concerns natural to one’s temperament and revisiting the big events and turning points of a life lived. For van Wey, these daydreams and reflections take a feminine character, and although the heavenly harp of a Calgon bubble bath commercial might fit seamlessly into the mix, the slippery, wordless female vocals seem to invite a catharsis of a less luxuriating variety – the long slipping away of the fundamental comforts provided by the more emotionally gifted sex. While each person’s experience with femininity, psychological theories, and their own life story will elicit different reactions, the feminine element is prominent and gently provocative.
While an artist so consistent and prolific is susceptible to charges of producing boilerplate material, the music here sets itself apart from his past and justifies its own existence. What makes The Art of Dying Alone unique is the way van Wey is now dabbling in more varied arrangements. The prominently mixed acoustic guitar on “Descent to the End” is just the beginning. “Nothing From No One” starts and ends with solo piano played with confidence and beauty, and “To Finally Forget It All” sees the slightest glitchy beat accompany the drifty swell. The title track is one of his deepest tracks with respect to 3 dimensional depth. After isolating voice and piano, the song slowly morphs into a maelstrom of urgency, a female voice crying out amid overwhelming vibrations and reverberations. Perhaps the biggest departure is “No One Will Ever Find You Here”, which sees the backbone shard of guitar melody quicken until it gives an encroaching feeling of breathlessness. All of these dabblings show van Wey curious to explore inner workings and patient to unveil payoffs, things that can only make his music as interesting as it is immersive.
(December 2010) Devotees of Brock Van
Wey's recent output under his own name and his bvdub alias may ready
themselves for swooning again. Followers of the sonic aesthetic established
by Alessandro Tedeschi, Glacial Movements' prime mover, however, should
prepare for disappointment. In the artist's discography, this new release
departs little from immediate precursors, but in terms of the label's
in-house style, it is notably, jarringly, incongruent. The Art of Dying
Alone may be a meditation on a theme of isolation and existential angst, but
it is far removed from the intensity of GM's back catalogue of long dark
stares into the void from Netherworld, Rapoon, Lull, Francisco Lòpez, or the
desolate dream projections of Skare, Oophoi, and Aquadorsa.
Brock Van Wey, distilled further to bvdub, was once a deep house/trance dj in San Francisco. Questions about the scene may have precipitated his departure to Shaoxing China and a flurry of releases whilst inhabiting the solace of isolation in his new home. Suffice to say my research, such that it is, could not paint you an accurate rationale for this turn of events, but for the purposes of this review I shall use the idea of solitude to build a sense of his music for you.
Solitude in electronic music has a nifty label of Isolationism to portray it, which does not necessarily convey an idea of community or a shared sense or communication with others, if that is at all what music is about. An album titled as such eschews company and would seem to suggest a dread or foreboding, however if considered in relation to its bookend statement, “we all die alone, but some make it their last work of art”, then solitude has a different trajectory. The communication of the act of creating a artful death, which for want of a better explanation as to what such an act would constitute I will succumb to the idea of an artful death being the same as a good death. And a good death being essentially the same as creating a good life. Such is stance is problematic as it suggests the idea that there is a way of life which can be conceived as the form of the good and that can of worms I shall let you open.
So to the music, there is a series of elements merged; piano or at least keyboard simulacra, acoustic guitar, violin and vocal intonations. Predominately the construction is long extended chords in cycles , richly nuanced and interwoven in layers, with a slow paced sub bass pulse underlying the layers of chords. Even at times a nuance of electronic chirp added to the minimal beat structure, piano motifs scattered in some tracks discretely as dressing, rather than form. Vocal intonations of female voices are cut up and processed without any sense of narrative but rather as colours or textures for the tracks. Consider the instruments as heavily processed and abstracted from their acoustic or essential forms and that to a degree the idea of them as instruments has reduced to source material for manipulation. The instrument here is the manipulation of the electro-acoustic environment, reflecting the thematic solitude idea, where the singular producer draws elements in rather than working in a group, ensemble or orchestra.
If this description leaves you still wondering of the content of ‘The Art Of Dying Alone’, then by comparison it shares similarities with the oeurve of the Pop Ambient series on Kompakt or of Biosphere’s ‘Substrata’, but these comparisons fall into the category of ‘if you liked this then you may like that’. Really it seeks to connect with people in terms of an emotional or intellectual angle rather than from a visceral realm of the senses perspective.
As with a good deal of ambient the construction suggests a sense of emotional depth and grandeur in a classical sense. It may be all in the construction, a sort of trick of the ear, by delivering the idea of depth, especially emotional depth, we may consider it to be the domain of the musician. However this is to say that the conveyed musical construction and the state of the musician are simultaneous, something that can not empirically be ascertained. We have to take it as it is to a certain extent and whether the sound rings true to you may very well say more of yourself than the album. Innerversitysound
Depuis l’isolationnisme dont il a fait son but d’exploration, Alessandro Tedeschi élargit peu à peu l’angle de son label Glacial Movements. Le pôle certes, et le froid, mais plus uniquement les textures ambiantes de Lull, Netherworld, López, Rapoon… Avec le Aqua Dorsa d’Enrico Coniglio et Oophoi, la rutilance du chrome et du clic avait déjà colonisé la glace. C’est chose répétée chez BVdub, alias de Brock van Wey, repéré sur Kompakt, le label de Gas. Comme Gas / W. Voigt, BVdub joint au froid du vent et de la banquise, celui des circuits et des cordes mises en boucles. L’ordinateur revendique son silicium, ses angles et sa digestion de l’acoustique. Après tout, le pôle est un lieu d’absolu, et il devient vite un absolu en soi, une image, un but et, en tant que tel, multiplie les chemins et les méthodes pour l’atteindre. Dans la musique de BVdub, c’est le passage de la grâce allongée à la boucle qui semble figurer cet état et son accomplissement ; le passage du drone à fredonner dans la plus pure essence mélancolique du paradoxal dark ambient éclairé, jusqu’à la fermeture d’une séquence sur elle-même. Pour cela BVdub choisit le geste acoustique, aux couleurs d’Eno, comme ce piano qui se déploie dans son aube, révèle des nuances saturées de jaune pâle comme les pétales s’ouvrant insensiblement dans le printemps nimbé de rosée. Une fois capturée, la beauté se love dans son cercle, que l’informatique répète à l’envi, soutenue par de discrets inserts rythmiques, rejoignant la légère mécanique de Gas dans ces moments. L’art de mourir, forcément seul, mais en tout cas de savoir mourir c’est, dit-on, le but de toute philosophie. Il me semble que la musique et de tels instants de poésie sans mots, peuvent y apporter un indéniable secours, voire y suppléer.
Here’s a true story. One morning I woke
up between the two worlds – the one created by my mind, and the one
perceived by it. With the remaining bits of dreams still lingering in my
peripheral consciousness, I set off to the start of a new day. But the
dreams kept coming back. In particular, an image of a needle playing on a
dusty record, evoking two words spoken by that 60s radio jockey, repeated
over and over in one continuous loop. The same two words appeared on the
DJ’s t-shirt – one on the front, the other on the back. Those two words were
“dying” and “alone”. That dream stayed with me for weeks, sending chills
down my spine upon every recollection. Unable to interpret its meaning, I
shelved it for another time. A month later, I have discovered bvdub‘s latest
album. Have I seen this title somewhere else before? Perhaps. That doesn’t
change a thing…
Ouuuuuuh... L’œuvre de Brock Van Wey, qui
travaille depuis Shaoxing, en Chine. De l’électronique ambiante avec une
très légère tendance expérimentale (quelques textures plus grattantes). Mais
splendidement fait, avec de belles voix féminines en fond. De longues pièces
méditatives - économes dans les arrangements, mais très efficaces. Charmant.
The Story Behind the Songs: While they’re a stunning listen in and of themselves, William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops series (there are four volumes) comes with a weighty backstory. The result of restored magnetic tape recordings from 1982, the tracks feature digitally-transferred loops that literally dropped out as Basinski layered them into lengthy soundscape pieces. That’s not the kicker, though. It’s this: The project was finished the morning of September 11, in a Brooklyn apartment across the river from the Twin Towers.
It goes without saying that Basinski’s work takes on a whole other level of solemnity once you understand the circumstances behind each willfully-distorted cut. Whether or not bvdub’s new record is the result of his own personal strife seems to go without saying, what with its The Art of Dying Alone title and all. At any rate, we’ve always been a sucker for the kind of chilly, heart-sinking ambient artistry that’s on display here. Seriously, this stuff is so good it makes us want to roll ourselves into a ball and cry uncontrollably for no reason other than the simple fact that the songs demand it.
Сказать, что Брок ван Вей (Brock van Wey), человек, скрывающийся за именем bvdub, музыкант исключительный, значит не сказать ничего. Уроженец Лос-Анджелеса, нашедший пристанище и успокоение в китайской глубинке, черпает в восточной культуре вдохновение и, дополняя его естественной грустью, рождает удивительную по красоте музыку. Депрессивным этюдам bvdub самое место где-нибудь в снежных пустынях Антарктики, но новый альбом «The Art Of Dying Alone» даёт фору даже более ранним его работам. Здесь нет ни намёка на дабовое или ещё какое-нибудь обличие техно-музыки, которые раньше то и дело находили себе место в творчестве Брока. Слово «эмбиент» в своём первоначальном понимании («окружение») – наверняка лучший способ описать текущее звучание bvdub, зачастую не имеющее даже ритма и всегда без малейшей танцпольной принадлежности. Эта музыка создаёт иллюзию пространства, заполняет которое лишь одиноко звучащая инструментальная линия (клавишные или гитара) с периодически всплывающими семплированными голосами – и то, и то можно назвать новшеством в контексте музыкального наследия bvdub. Безо всякого сомнения, данный диск нельзя назвать фоновым – слушать его следует только тогда, когда тебе слишком хорошо. Либо слишком плохо.
Producteur d'ambient-music installé depuis peu en Chine, Brock van Wey, plus connu sous le nom de Bvdub, sait sans doute désormais depuis ce que solitude veut dire. Une solitude érigée sur ce disque en véritable art auditif de l'isolationnisme, et qui vient apporter une suite idoine à une série de disques tous plus recommandables les uns que les autres, parus sur des labels côtés comme Echospace (son double-album White Clouds Drift On and On) ou sur des écuries plus confidentielles, comme Quietus recordings (We Were the Sun). Chez Bvdub, l'esthétisation de cette sensation d'isolement prend successivement des atours électroniques cristallins (« Descent to the end ») ou puise sa source dans une vibration instrumentale se transformant progressivement en drone lascive (les notes de pianos se transformant en nappes sur « Nothing from no one » ou «To finally forget it all »). A la lecture des titres, extrêmement dépressifs («No more reasons not to fall », « No one will ever find you here »), on pourrait penser que la musique enclenchera un processus mortifère, mais au contraire elle se révèle intimement lumineuse, jusque dans ses aspérités les plus profondes. Un Art de mourir seul qui nous emportera tous. - Laurent Catala
If you want to know what to expect from this album, ignore the artist's stage name (which will lead you to expect something on the reggae spectrum) and both the album title and the track titles ("No One Will Ever Find You Here," "Nothing from No One," etc.) which might lead you to expect death metal. Instead, consult the label and its website, both called Glacial Movements. This is ambient music of an unusually rich, complex, harmonically static, and (odd though it is to say) warm kind, despite its apparent intention to evoke cold and desolation. No track is less than eight minutes long and a couple hover around twenty; all of them are the aural equivalent of a bathtub filled with warm, richly scented water and interesting toys. Wonderful. (RA)
Art loves desolation, and ever since the
Romantics made us visit the wild wood and read it as morally superior to the
city, that's where we look for inspiration and perhaps relaxation. Composed
by Brock Van Wey (sounds Dutch), recorded in China, and released in Italy,
this multi-national project forms a calm, clear environment, the sort of
place you might imagine on a pristine Greenland plateau or in an anechoic
woodland. Dream trance sounds hypnotically seduce you, reducing your iPhone
and Franklin Day Planner to unneeded abstractions. You know you should be
somewhere -- a sales meeting in Boise, performance review training in
Baltimore, perhaps solving technical problems at the Helsinki call center,
but you just can't get up the gumption. Bvdub is Valium for the soul,
Control-Alt-Delete for the body, an audio cleansing for your karma. This
might all be incoherent rambling, but it's a very pleasant incoherence, and
I would be very happy if you were here right now. I'll get the hot stones
for the massage, you realign the Feng Shui crystals. But since you couldn't
be on this astral plane, I'll leave you with a deep, friendly "aum... ."