The lust for and prevalence of quixotic, intangibly ethereal electronics are currently at their absolute crest: between cloud rap's torchbearing beatmakers Clams Casino, SpaceGhostPurrp, and Evian Christ, and producers characterized by indistinct flickers of R&B vocalists lost in the gossamer of vaporous, yearning electronica, including Swarms member Stumbleine, Soosh, and Mister Lies, the ubiquity has risen as distinction has been lost. And though it could be said that bvdub (birth name Brock Van Wey) is cut from the latter cloth, his work is stitched differently, which may be due to the fact that the origins of his catalog predate those of the aforementioned paragons of gauzy downtempo.
A glaring clincher to bvdub's bewildering craft comes into view after listening to his simultaneously issued albums Serenity and Don't Say You Know, both respectively manifesting two different routes taken. The former and fundamental release wades through obfuscated, emotionally heavy atmospherics, introducing intoxicating grooves just before settling back into the fog-- an aesthetic akin to that of Kompakt mainstays Wolfgang Voigt and The Field. Like them, bvdub favors gradual development, especially during the opaque opener "Unity", which follows the lilt of descending synth-strings, acquires a light pulse, and ruptures with a colossal throb and helix of spectral vocal loops. He abandons structure toward the beginning of "Love"'s arc, leaving space for saccharine refrains and a wandering piano phrase to saturate the mix. The rhythmic builds on Serenity are forseeable, but when Wey revels in the shapeless milieu from which the beats spawn, their arrival is a breathtaking surprise.
bvdub peers further into that world on Serenity's companion, Don't Say You Know, an album that captures and elongates instances of suspended time. Even as the beatless framework accumulates another hue, their oscillation suggests a beautiful paralysis. In its cyclical repetition "Made It Here Without You" swims through the mire of gliding piano and dizzying euphoria. When the abrasive rhythm of "All It Takes" bursts open, Wey doesn't draw a summit as much as he does break a spell. "Pure of Heart" looks to perplex in its opening few seconds, when the comfort of bright chords and children's voices are offset by a wistful key change soon to be propelled by 90s breakbeats. They're elements that shouldn't coexist, but in their rainy, nebulous scenery there are endless possibilities. Wey allows evolution, but he's also eager to savor ecstatic resolves in rounds.
Though both the album and its appendage operate differently, a common thread is their consideration and relegation of language. Serenity's tracklist consists of inherent concepts-- "Beauty", "Love", "Strength"-- that rather embody a spirit than voice a thought. bvdub also reduces his vocal samples to such familiar fragments of speech ("I can see," "Just hold on," "thinking of you,") that they're rendered phonic accents as opposed to streamlined lyricism. Soulful inflection and a blissful bent constitute Serenity and Don't Say You Know while explanation falls to the wayside, and as Wey does in his echoing phrases, we can bask in it.
[Buy Serenity & Don't Say You Know from Darla Records]