[sic] Magazine

bvdub – Heartless

Less is more.

There are some artists that I have reviewed five or six times previously and yet every new release is welcome. Brock Van Wey is one such artist. I think Heartless is the fourth bvdub album that he’s released on the specialist n5MD label and yet his total output borders thirty or so long players. Am I daunted? Not in the slightest. You always know three things in advance about a bvdub album. a) it’ll be different, b) It’ll be good and c) there will be at least one piece which will floor you with its astonishing majesty.

‘Less is more’ was a pun of sorts. Van Wey is notorious for the length of some of his pieces. This 8 track release (meaning the number of titles not the recording mechanism) runs to 77 minutes and includes three of his trademark 12 minute-ers. With bvdub, more is definitely more. “Less” is also relevant because every songtitle here is something’-less – ‘Sleepless’, ‘Nameless’ etc.

Heartless opens strongly with the reflective ambiance of ‘Sleepless’. On another record, this could be the closing piece. This is yet another example of Van Wey’s inverted stereotypes but let’s put the cleverness to one side for a moment. How good is this! I’ll tell you. Sensational. As the piece unfolds toward ever increasing grandeur I’m of a mind that bvdub has already ticked off my a), b) and c) within the first 6 minutes. ‘Nameless’ is the first of the albums 12 minute epics and has a playful license to roam. At times ‘Nameless’ puts me in mind of Bark PsychosisHex (albeit minus the challenging peals of brass.) It’s as though Brock was asked to precis the landmark post-rock album using the medium of IDM electronica. Really exquisite stuff.

n5MD remarked that Heartless is a “monolithic” release for bvdub. I haven’t found that myself. It’s just too pretty for that. True the center of the album does threaten to collapse upon itself with its ever more nebulous phases. There’s an ambient swell reaching cosmic proportions at times and though not a psychedelic recording you could sure travel ‘far’ listening to Heartless, (with or without recreational pharmaceutical assistance). Heartless isn’t in any way impenetrable though. Even its waves of drone feel celestial, as though bathing in starlight. Nearing the albums conclusion I start to get the drift of what the label were implying. There’s a darker edge creeping in, a sense of reverence and awe. ‘Painless’, for example, has that vibe of entering a great cathedral and feeling inspired by the atmosphere and architecture, whether believer or non.

If Heartless really is an attempt at something starker and colder I’d have to challenge that because I’m finding this new record a thing of wonder. bvdub’s music is typically loaded with emotion rendering this album title something of a misnomer. Heartless? This record? Not for one second. Beatless, I might have accepted but I’ve got to tell you I’m leaning toward Flawless.

A truly staggering, humbling album.

Heartless is released Sept 15th on n5MD


Yours Are Stories Of Sadness review