[Reviewed by stark]
At some point I felt a surfeit of Bvdub. My fascination grew up to some point, and fulfillment came around “All Is Forgiven”, which I think is the best thing Brock has released up to date. His subsequent albums didn’t manage to seize me, and it’s probably not even because of the music’s poor quality. It’s still alright – except maybe “Erebus”, the collaboration with Loscil, unworthy of such a name. Simply too much music: I couldn’t get acquainted with one album, because a new one was starting to loom on the horizon. Inevitably, some of them received but a few listens. A multitude of publications is one thing, but along with it came a weariness of the style cultivated by Bvdub. This emotionally marked ambient dub. I had to take a break from the project. “A History Of Distance” is my reunion with Bvdub after more than six months.
The cover is good. This time without any landscapes or shots of young girls. Minimalist but aesthetically pleasing. In terms of music, starting from the first notes of “Everything Between You And Me,” we know we’re dealing with good old Bvdub. Dense yet melodic, filled with specific vocal samples and the naïve yet touching, youthful, slightly outdated romanticism, which finds its way to our heart even if we are clearly aware that it balances on the verge of kitsch, sometimes even surpasses it. Anyway, take a look at the titles of individual songs, not just the ones on “A History Of Distance”, but in general. All this longing for youth, lost love, transience of the most important moments. Everything served directly; contrary to what the title claims, there’s no place for distance. It doesn’t matter. It’s obvious that music that isn’t so straightforward gives more satisfaction in the end. The one you have to dig deeper in to find its true message. But sometimes I just don’t feel like it, sometimes I want to get carried away by emotions, setting reason aside.
I’m not sure if the album will find its way to my personal “van Wey canon”. It’s decent, but it’s probably not the same now than what it would have been 2-3 years ago. In addition there are some stumbles, like the further part of “Silver Altars Run To Rivers”, extended beyond measure, with this vocal part endlessly looped – after a while it began to irritate me in quite a concrete way. Fortunately one can find good moments without much effort. “Ghosts Of What We Once Were” in contrast to its predecessor, it’s decorated with awesome vocals, such that somewhere deep in my soul this spark that had kindled the fire on “Resistance Is Beautiful” and “Serenity” began to smolder again.
I’m returning to this album surprisingly often during the last few weeks. Probably this break-up, or separation, whatever you want to call it, did us well. It doesn’t impress, it has its shortcomings, but ultimately it can be liked. Unless of course you aren’t able to abandon the posed, sophisticated, avant-garde fellow-despising emotions given in a more direct way. I know it’s hard, but sometimes you can give it a try.