bvdub – Born in Tokyo

Bvdub is one of those artists where keeping track of their productivity is a task in itself, even before soaking in the vastness of the records themselves. The American electronic musician has created an interesting aura around himself with beautiful ambient music infused with spectral shades of dance beats and gorgeous vocal sampling and releases several records year. He’s also done this from his home in China, where he relocated many years ago.

Two of his most recent records, Serenity (2012) and A Careful Ecstasy, released earlier in 2013, have shown, in staggering detail, that his balance between productivity and creativity is at a peak. What’s the point of churning out records en masse if they aren’t any good, right? That doesn’t seem to be a concern for bvdub, real name Brock Van Wey.
Where Serenity and A Careful Ecstasy could lay claim to be being his best work and he could very well have rested on his laurels for Born in Tokyo, this new LP may very well take that mantle now.

The structure is very similar to before with lengthy 10-15 minute compositions and a running time nearing the 80 minute mark and much like previous efforts, it’s an album that drifts by with ease like an autumn breeze. In fact, Born in Tokyo’s aural landscape make a compelling sonic companions for the visual of browning leaves and earlier sunsets with its hazy ambience.

For years now, Van Wey has mastered the art of the restrained build. Each composition first opens in calm and serene reflection where each of the layers slowly begin to emerge from the foggy distance. Bvdub’s music very much begins to blossom after spending minutes laying down a foundation until a gorgeous and invigorating, but still soothing, crescendo takes over, much like the vibrant midway number, ‘Strong Again (Teach Me to Feel)’ where initially some male-led vocals are manipulated before ushering in a meandering soft beat-driven close.

‘We Love Together (It’s Our World)’ sees Van Wey toying with divergent male and female vocal samples, entwining them into a lush harmony that dominates the track only to allow the beats to take over for the remaining few minutes and play us out while something that actually sounds like a guitar, though obviously synth’d, can be heard whirring in the distance.

Another highlight that perfectly encapsulates what bvdub is about is the contrasting fragrances of ‘Two Hours to Forever (Just Ask Me, I’ll Stay)’, where the familiar washes of ambience soon morph into lively and ebullient beats that hark back to the more dance oriented shades in his palette, while still being reserved and serene and doesn’t throw out heftier beats just for the sake of it.

Born In Tokyo is equally engaging as it is relaxing while deeply layered but also beautifully airy; another spectacular record from Van Wey.

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