Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Somewhere Far Away: Bvdub
In the last post for February here at mnml ssgs, Pete noted that one of the signature movements of this year, based on the closing months of 2007 and what we’ve seen so far of 2008, is a resurgence of interest in dub-tech. Witness the flurry of interest in DeepChord and Rod Modell, even though they’ve been around for years, thanks to their brilliant “The Coldest Season” album on Modern Love. Modern Love themselves have attracted attention with releases from Andy Stott, Pendle Coven, and MLZ. Andy Stott & Claro Intelecto hit it out of the park with their Resident Advisor podcast in January, and just a few weeks ago dub-tech veteran Pole did the same. We are indeed in the middle of a dub-tech renaissance.
While I’ve been enjoying the above-mentioned artists’ work immensely, the producer who has most captured my interest is a relative newcomer called Brock Van Wey, better known as Bvdub. Van Wey is a San Francisco based producer who has only been releasing material since the later half of 2007, but in that short time has already released four EPs and one LP on Styrax Records, his own Quietus Recordings, and MP3 label Night Drive Music and its sublabels. And thus far every release has been an absolute killer.
Van Wey’s tracks are long, gaseous pieces that gently drift along, underscored by an insistent (but never intrusive) beat. Serene, contemplative, and hypnotic, like watching grey clouds gliding overhead, the tracks owe just as much to the ambient scene as they do to dub-tech – something Van Wey has pointed out himself (perhaps keen not to be pigeon-holed as a bandwagon jumping dub-tech producer). The titles are also wonderfully evocative, and emphasize the meditative nature of the music: Somewhere Far Away, It Could Have Been So Beautiful, I Never Cried A Tear, Remembering To Forget, Dreaming Of Your Downfall, A Quiet Vengeance.
The prolific producer has recently started his own label, Quietus Recordings. Quietus is a CD-R label, with each release limited to just 100 hand-made, hand-numbered copies, each containing a unique photograph taken by Van Wey. Van Wey has said he will never consider increasing production, nor will the tracks be made available as MP3s. This is something I find fascinating, especially in light of some recent discussions about the merits of MP3 releases. Although he has released on MP3 labels, Van Wey is very clearly making a statement with his own label. Reading the Quietus website reveals that he wishes to establish a deeply personal connection between artist, listener, and label, with every step of production emphasizing the personal (and personalized) nature of each release.
Van Wey shows no signs of slowing down, with his website noting six upcoming releases (and the Quietus website mentions another, bringing the total up to seven). If he can maintain the excellent quality along with his output, Bvdub will most definitely be a key producer of 2008.
You can hear some samples of Bvdub at his myspace page or his own website, which also hosts eight mixes. (I’ve listened to the most recent two, “A Willing End” and “When”, and both are absolutely gorgeous ambient mixes without a trace of dub to them.) There is also an excellent interview with him here, and another here.