When I consider the deep effect Bvdub’s Born in Tokyo has had on me through several repeat listens, and that this is Brock Van Wey’s 20th release under this name, my first thought is, How did I miss the first 19? On this outing, Bvdub entices the listener with a blend of styles that encompass EDM, New Age and dream pop. Typically, within the melodic electronica genre, songs tend to run at pop length–three, five, six minutes, tops. Bvdub takes the feel and the framework and stretches it out to the 11-14 minute range, and in doing so gives his pieces more room for expression and more potential for impact. It allows him to work movements into the pieces, full-on changes of tone that dovetail neatly and keep his grooves going strong. It’s an influence that comes from Van Wey’s background as a DJ–the man knows how to craft a smooth blend. These shifts are, for me, one of the strongest points in an already very effective album. “Reach for Me (Awake For the First Time)” begins its run with deeply emotive piano playing under airy electronics and a will o’ wisp vocal. If you pulled everything out but the piano, you would have a very lovely New Age piece. The core of it, the strong phrasing and passionate emotion, would (and does) stand on its own. Van Wey’s atmospheric additions act as amplifiers, buffing up that content without sullying the clean, simple foundation. The song glides through a short ambient passage and emerges coated in a cool sequencer line. Shuffling glitch beats, a heavy low end, and dreamy, washed-out vocals complete the transition. Your first time around you may find yourself checking to see what this new track is. But it isn’t. And that’s the cool part. Check another great crossover on “We Love Together (It’s Our World).” Symphonic washes float like warm breath on cold air for the first 90 seconds or so–then you get a quick drop and Van Wey brings in sweet lounge chords and a house-style beat. On this track he’s assisted on the vocal side by Jenny Mayhem to take into a club-perfect space. It’s slick and sexy as hell, an aphrodisiacal slow groove that hits its emotional peak as the voices plead, “Why won’t you stay the night?” “Don’t Cry Mamii (To The Sky)” backs its way in with reverse-echoed notes and gentle guitar. Van Wey builds in layers by deepening his vocal loops, rich with more echo, developing a delicious interweaving of individual lines that strengthens with each pass. When, this, the closing track, sighs to an end, I would bet good money you’ll immediately start it up again.
I would not be surprised to learn that Born in Tokyo was crafted out of the highest quality silk. It’s unbelievably smooth and fully wraps the listener in its glistening textures. The perfect balance of hush and groove is immediately infectious. Van Wey’s pure confidence shows in every track. He knows how good his transitions are and he knows you’re going to love them. This is a release full of “oh,yeah” moments. A genuinely fantastic release from Bvdub that you must hear.
Available from n5md.