Explosions in Slow Motion
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.