Brock Van Wey, White Clouds Drift On and On

Spomenik4-2007Art by Vukov Spomenik

[echospace [detroit]]

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With a faultless series of releases focused on ambient atmospheres and techno textures, Brock Van Wey — perhaps better known as Bvdub, has rapidly become an indispensable fixture of the deeper side of electronica. His latest long player is broken into two parts, with kindred spirit Intrusion offering interpretations of the six tracks in reverse order for the second part of the album. The album’s inspiration is hinted at in the liner notes which feature a poem by Chinese poet Wang Wei, the last line of which is adopted by Van Wey for the album title.

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A serenely meditative collection of droning ambience, White Clouds Drift On and On makes studied detail of the repetitive fabric of woven pads, strings and silken noise. Van Wey’s floating compositions weigh in with a gossamer lightness despite an occasional mournful tenderness here and there. “I Knew Happiness Once” is a prime example of this, the yearning tones hint at some long ago emotional treasure buried by time, though the mood remains overall of hope rather than despair. On “A Gentle Hand To Hold” fragile guitar strings combine with angelic, breathy snatches of voices while vast, cascading pads rain down from the heavens. “A Chance To Start Over” takes these elements in reverse, the backwards guitars sucked up into an invisible vacuum, the strains of voices swallowed back into the mouths they came from as pulsing pianos key minute melodies. With the basis of White Clouds Drift On and On being comprised of broad sweeping pads and otherworldly, near religious sounding vocal phrases, these exploratory soundscapes would not sound out of place in a surreal nature documentary. In fact it is hard not to picture the equally wondrous and haunting images of Baraka while listening to this album.

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Stephen Hitchell applies his Intrusion touch to the album, adding not only his own interpretation of the tracks but also some notably absent bottom end. The Intrusion “Shapes” are not the usual hallucinatory dub-influenced fare you’d expect from Hitchell; in keeping with the ambient nature of the album his versions are slow, ambling excursions into the deepest of atmospherics. Armed with just a kick drum, a light smattering of toms and some hats, Intrusion creates the same dreamy vibrations he is known for with his more uptempo releases on “A Gentle Hand To Hold,” though with the BPM here hovering around 70 here the amount of breathing space he creates is astounding. The dubbier side of Intrusion emerges on “A Chance To Start Again,” “Forever A Stranger” and “I Knew Happiness Once,” though these too remain purposefully sedentary. Van Wey and Hitchell each capture a masterful beauty in their respective parts on this album, one which is a modern ambient masterpiece and shows each producer in prime form. It will however be much easier to aurally digest by those who are content to lay back and gaze skyward while the two and a half hours of gentle undulating rhythms roll and wash over them.

tom/pipecock  on July 17, 2009 at 3:15 PM

i have to say this is one of the best ambient releases in as long as i can remember. i think i like the intrusion versions better right now, i’ve been playing them every night while going to sleep….

James  on July 18, 2009 at 3:26 AM

this is the first i’m hearing of this beyond 30s samples and my god… fucking beautiful.

lee burridge deserves to do a fabric cd  on July 18, 2009 at 4:46 AM

a bit chilledout/newagey in my opinion, but really nice to listen beatless stuff over here
keep up the great work guys

Jordan Rothlein  on July 18, 2009 at 7:12 PM

I just picked this up. Absolutely gorgeous stuff. Best echospace release yet?

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