Brock Van Wey Home

STAFF PICKS: Brock Van Wey’s ambient opus Home is the unrealizable concept album

The second LP under the prolific California artist's own name is a three hour epic that aches and awes like its charged title.

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- Apr 3, 2014

The note accompanying Burial's latest EP Rival Dealer came with a message. This is all of me, William Bevan said. Anything we'd heard and loved from the post-dubstep pioneer previously was, for the man who made it, a trial run. The release's rapturous reception was a coup amongst underground electronic music's grim and steely movements towards the jungle/'ardcore revival, drought-techno, and crushing or otherwise hedged simulacrums of the composers.

It was also a vindication for another artist, who, for seven years and 20 releases (most as bvdub), has made electronic music that contains not a reflection of humanity, but its vapour (this principle, if not the execution, would be adopted by Clams Casino and other Based producers). Released less than two months after Rival Dealer, Brock Van Wey's second album Home is a sprawling opus of ambient expressionism, as hypnotizing as the smell of your old room and as jarring as the bed you no longer fit in.

Home is a sprawling opus of ambient expressionism, as hypnotizing as the smell of your old room and as jarring as the bed you no longer fit in.

Ambient music, as proclaimed by Brian Eno in the liner notes for Ambient 1: Music For Airports, was meant as a "tint" for spearing some clarity within the listener's own fog. Home does not aspire to that definition: Brock Van Wey is very much a presence in his work. But it's still "a space to think," thanks to Van Wey's delicate and hyperfocused steering of the record's titular subject. Each track is clearly the work of a man who both has his hometown's area code tattooed on his neck and travels the world searching for an Eden that can't exist.

Brock Van Wey - Can't Go Home Without You (Echospace)

These are conflicted songs, rich with eternal questions and no answers, heeding our urgency yet moving at life's glacial pace. The record comes in at over 3 hours and just 11 songs. That may seem prolix, and occasionally it can feel that way, but for Van Wey's entire career he's treasured and rewarded the minority who stick around til after everyone's left. After five songs of gorgeous new age bliss, voices cast about like driftwood, a guitar on "got to carry on" cuts through the EQ-ed haze. The gentle strum marks a new chapter, and these reinvigorations come one after the other on "wish i could say more than this" and "can't go home without you" their pianos jaunty and elegiac, respectively.

To trim or condense these songs into more "manageable" sizes would be against the album's thematic thrust. Home is not easy to conceptualize or attain. It is both given to us and rejected by us. Our own ideas for it blind us, yet they're all we have to go on. Van Wey has produced a record that syncs up with this tumult perfectly by mirroring his own. Rich with a fresh language of sentiment and joy and pain of nostalgia and new discovery, Home evokes both soupy mists of memory and fabrication we venerate as our origins, and that Neptune coloured planet hiding beneath our subconscious, waiting for us to finally move in.

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