Bvdub: Tanto (CD, Quietus, January 2015)

I think this might be the record where Brock Van Wey finally jumped the shark. But the thing is, I think it might also be kind of genius. I first encountered him with 2009’s White Clouds Drift On And On, a swirly synth ambient job which sounded exactly like it you’d expect from the name: a really good record, but not groundbreaking. Cut to 2013 and his collaboration with Loscil, Erebus, which I loved for its uncanny vocals which hovered just beyond the edge of language. Then, on last year’s Home, there were real honest heart-on-sleeve power-pop ballad vocals somewhere buried under the swooshy ambient reverb.

With Tanto, those vocals are even more to the fore, and are joined by what often sounds like a cheap drum-machine’s demo mode, thumping away right up the front of the mix. It’s more than a little bit stadium emo. Oh, and did I mention that the whole thing is about his dead cat? Right. On paper, it sounds preposterous. In fact, it works superbly well, and I can’t quite explain why. There are jarring moments, especially when the drums kick in after long ambient intervals, but then something just gels, and it somehow this unlikely combination produces the perfect marriage of textures and melodies. Plus, the composition and the production are really good. Like Home, this record sounds utterly sincere, but never irritatingly earnest. If jumping the shark sounds this affecting and compelling then I’m cheering him on all the way. (Plus, I feel a little bit sad about his cat.)

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Electronic.

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