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bvdub - Explosions in Slow Motion

Explo­sions in Slow Motion
2019, n5MD

I would say this is “clas­sic bvdub,” but in fact there are a couple of styles I would call that. The beat-driven power ambi­ent, vocal-heavy and smooth, is one type. This one is mostly the other type: deep, dreamy drones and ambi­ences that stretch out for miles and miles. I say “mostly” because the dif­fer­ence is more a mat­ter of degree than essence—here, too, the sound­scapes are occa­sion­ally car­ried by a deep pulse or sop­or­ific voice.

Explo­sions in Slow Motion pairs four massive tracks, each around 17 minutes in length, with four “Ember” inter­ludes that call to mind the ‘sketches’ on his earlier n5MD work Yours Are Stor­ies of Sad­ness (2016): short, punchy com­pos­i­tions that con­vey brief emo­tions where the longer tracks take their time to drag them­selves out. And I mean “drag” in the best of ways. Van Wey’s com­pos­i­tions are not ashamed to take up the space they need to express them­selves on their own terms.

Prom­in­ent instru­ments on this album are strained syn­thes­ised strings of vari­ous kinds, bowed and struck. But most prom­in­ent is bvdub’s trade­mark deep, warm haze that drenches everything. It makes an album like this heavy to digest, to be sure, but if you’re in the mood it’s so worth it.

It’s some­times hard to review an artist as pro­lific as Van Wey, because how to place any new album in the con­text of a couple dozen pre­de­cessors? Well, if you haven’t heard much or any of his work before, this album is a really good place to start. It’s not quite at the level of his abso­lute best works like Serenity / Don’t Say You Know or Ere­bus (with Los­cil), but it’s a good way up there. If you feel that you’ve pretty much heard what Van Wey has to offer at this point, how­ever, then this album is not gonna change your mind. Finally, if you’re the kind of per­son that has in fact heard most of the bvdub oeuvre, but can’t sup­press a tingle whenever a new one drops, be sure to pick this one up too. I’m in the lat­ter cat­egory, and Explo­sions in Slow Motion makes me wist­fully happy like only a solid bvdub album can.

Explo­sions in Slow Motion is out Feb­ru­ary 15 on vinyl, CD, and digital through n5MD.

Reviewed by Ἀρέθουσα.