bvdub – The Art of Dying Alone

bvdub - The Art of Dying Alone

bvdub - The Art of Dying Alone

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.


Glacial Movements Recordings