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bvdub – Wrath and Apathy

bvdub – Wrath and Apathy

Brock Van Wey’s bvdub project has delighted and stunned me in the past. This alumni of the Bay area rave period honed his Deep House and Ambient side before escaping the scene, relocating to China and shifting more naturally into downtempo IDM. I think Wrath and Apathy is actually his sixth for n5MD, but he is into the forties as far as overall releases are concerned. How cool is that? With no let-up in quality of ideas that’s pretty remarkable. Van Wey’s forays into amorphous IDM do have a tendency to take his listeners by surprise, certainly this listener anyway. His often lengthy, billowing electronic-driven explorations can suddenly crystallise into the most exquisite, sparkling passages, be it a melody, a groove or climactic phase. You live for those moments with bvdub letting the rest engulf you.

Wrath and Apathy is comprised of four approximately 20 minute pieces that each take their time to unfold. I have to admit I had my doubts when I slipped this into the player. The artist name displayed as bvudb which wasn’t a great omen in itself. A glitch in the Van Wey Matrix perhaps? I also found myself having difficulties engaging with the opening, title track. As mentioned, lengthy tracks are a known bvdub trope that will reward the most patient and loyal listeners. ‘Wrath and Apathy’ just didn’t take me anywhere particularly and took its time in doing so. The keys have a distinctive quality but the beats lurched a touch too randomly for my tastes. I gather the theme of the record is the ocean, part inspired by the novel Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. This would certainly explain the ebbing and flowing effect of the piece. Unfortunately by the end of ‘Wrath and Apathy’ I was left in the doldrums.

Happily the rest sparkles. ‘Ghosts and Stone’ is signature bvdub as it takes us in and out of contemplative swells. Some saturated vocals pop up on ‘Green and Blue’ before it hits its crescendo-building finale. ‘Endurance and Exodus’ (displaying as ‘Fight and Flight’ on my player – probably a working title) has an ecclesiastical reverence that recalls Hammock, at least during its opening third. Van Wey then sprinkles his own ‘popping candy’ beats over proceedings as the albums closing track morphs into Ice Bar IDM for its middle phase. The eventual end point is a twinkling cathedral of light that left me open mouthed on sheer awe.

Wrath and Apathy is an album that demands revisiting. Maybe after a little time and effort I can crack its title track. The rest won me over and then some.


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