Brock Van Wey: Home (2CD, Echospace, February 2014)

This is a slightly strange record. From the very start, it plunges us deep into that bvdub world of swirling synth noises and droning strings, everything swathed in so much reverb that it feels oddly timeless, and for, yep, over two and a half hours, that’s where we’re going to stay. Somewhere deep in the mix, pretty little melodies come and go. Vocals are built up into sighing, wordless choral swells; or else, they sound like language, but they are processed, pitch-shifted, and echoed beyond all recognition. Then, something quite curious happens: recognizable lyrics appear, somewhat hesitantly at first, but building up to something you could justifiably actually call songs. The style — both the content and the delivery — are frankly melodramatic, like there’s some kind of power-pop ballad lost somewhere deep in all these billowing clouds of ambient loveliness: on You Built A Kingdom, But No One Said Its Name (and, yes, the tracks really do all have names like that) a rather 80s sounding female vocal belts out “If you could only see me now / Baby, today / Baby today / Would you regret the things you said?” and something about broken vows. In today’s clever, detached musical climate, it’s tempting to see this as ironic, but I honestly think he means it: his music has always had its heart on its sleeve, and he has described this as his most personal record yet. It seems like he’s aware that this will be a little unsettling for many of his sophisticated leftfield audience, but he makes no apology for it — and for that he is, I think, to be applauded. (At this point, I should make a confession that there’s another thing I find a touch odd about this record. It feels pretty disrespectful even to think this, and I admit that this is probably just me, but I reckon I should be honest in recording my response to this music… and those chipmunked-up nostalgic pop vocals keep reminding of Scooter. What is it about Sheffield Dave and all those songs about his lost childhood, anyway?) On the first listen or two, I felt the double-album struggled to justify its mammoth running time, but it’s rather grown on me. It doesn’t quite have the magic of, say, last year’s collaboration with Loscil, but it’s still a pretty wonderful experience.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Dub Techno (presumably on the basis of the artist and label, rather than actually having listened to the record).

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