Occasionally there is a musical event that reminds you of the first time a song transcended its environment to become an embodiment, an extension of your own emotions. In these moments you are completely alone in a deeply personal reverie where the music speaks to and from your own heart.
Bvdub’s work has this power.
His long-form compositions have never shied away from the darker, more complicated side of the emotional spectrum and it is with great skill that Brock Van Wey imparts these introspective, isolated compositions, with such blissful melancholic reverie. This skill has come to the fore in ‘The First Day’, an album that serves as both a concise elegy to the human condition and an ode to the inexorable beauty of spring.
The sound palette is immediately recognisable; minimal techno inspired rhythms, reverb drenched pads, shimmering vocal samples and piano. These sounds are so familiar in the vocabulary of western musicology that they help to contextualise the record. The cultural idioms inherent within these sounds draw upon a shared history of collective understanding to invoke a deeper emotional response, which promotes and augments submission to the narrative of the compositions.
In a transient culture where music is downloaded, listened to and discarded all in less time than the shortest Bdvub composition, the length of Brock’s compositions helps give continuity and a sense of belonging to the listener; duration allows his records to breath. ‘The First Day’ is a further realisation of this methodology, contradicting the goal orientated, climatic nature of traditional western composition to provide liberation from everyday reality and give the listener time to revel in the beauty of hoping for something better. As Brock himself says;
“It [is] just about wanting there to be a place where we can all escape and celebrate together, where we can feel the power and beauty of music, and appreciate its message”
Participation, immersion and acoustics; Bvdub’s compositions, embodying and manifesting universal principles of sound and vibration, belong to everybody and nobody, and consequently promote this sense of participation and collective experience.
‘The First Day’ coalesces a sublime dichotomy of joy and despair, compelling the listener to journey with the artist through the end of a bleak winter, into flourishing spring. Through the continuation of sound in suspended time change is perceived in macro-formal space, creating a trance in which fleeting memories stir and dart through your consciousness, only to sink once more into obscurity. It is a heady, nostalgic and completely compelling record from an artist at the height of his powers.
Released 24th February on Home Normal
Review by Ed Hamilton