The Art of Dying Alone
Devotees of Brock Van Wey's recent output under his own name and his Bvdub alias—the double-disc opus White Clouds Drift On and On and We Were The Sun, issued on Stephen Hitchell's Echospace and Van Wey's own Quietus imprints, respectively—will find themselves swooning once again while listening to The Art of Dying Alone. The nearly eighty-minute collection must be considered a coup of sorts for the Glacial Movements label, given the rapturous response Van Wey's work has generated recently (that rise in profile exemplified by his inclusion on the 2010 edition of Kompakt's Pop Ambient series). Written and produced in Shaoxing, China, the new release doesn't depart dramatically from the style of its precursors, but that's no cause for complaint. Don't be thrown by the resigned tone of titles such as “To Finally Forget It All” and “The Art of Dying Alone” either; what Van Wey's conjured here are six ethereal soundscapes of epic grandeur.
So how's it sound? After an arresting piano introduction, “Nothing From No One” blossoms into a dense droning blur of piano, electronics, and voices. Powered by hypnotic loops of vocals, acoustic guitars, and strings so oceanic one could drown in them, “No More Reasons Not To Fall” and “No One Will Ever Find You Here” are so close in spirit to the Pop Ambient prototype, it's no surprise Van Wey was asked to contribute to the recent collection. A bouyant mid-tempo techno pulse lends “To Finally Forget It All” a levity and animation that nicely complements the silken unfurl of voices and synthetic washes thatswirl so seductively around it for twenty-one minutes. Even so, the album's loveliest piece is the becalmed title track, which ends the album with nineteen ravishing minutes of supplicating female vocalizing, choir exhalations, and harp-like string patterns.
With no details about instruments listed in the credits, one makes an educated guess about the tracks' specific sound sources; at the very least, one can report that piano, acoustic guitar, strings, and angelic female voices figure prominently, and that all such sounds are blended into tantalizing clouds of ambient design. The label name Glacial Movements might suggest icy chill and isolationism but The Art of Dying Alone exudes an alluring warmth that's anything but alienating. It's another beautiful addition to Van Wey's stellar discography.