The sequel to Serenity, A Careful Ecstasy continues Brock Van Wey’s fine vein of form. A Careful Ecstasy drapes a clearer veil of melancholia over herself, and this is quite a change for the usually sanguine bvdub. If Serenity was head over heels in love, then A Careful Ecstasy is the turbulent ending of that relationship, and our eventual recovery.
While Serenity rose high on love’s promise, with dream-soaked beats that flapped like butterflies fluttering in the stomach, A Careful Ecstasy subdues with an atmosphere that sees through and beyond the veil. This is the slow-burning reality crash, a fading love, but it is, as we’ve come to expect from bvdub’s music, always a gorgeous experience. In this sense, everything is the same. It feels different, though. Like a past lover you can’t forget, the still-dreamy ambient atmosphere flirts between ascension, as in bvdub’s radiant past, and a downcast descent, releasing bittersweet feelings of pleasure and pain. Adorable atmospheres remain, ones that only bvdub can conjure up, but they’re not as hazy as they once were. Sleepy eyes are opening after being knocked down to Earth, naivety lost yet still smiling bravely, even after the departure of love’s embrace.
This is the tragedy of departed love, which all too frequently ends in a blaze of sadness, shock and sorrow, instead of an amicable parting of the ways. Yet, the resulting silence leaves her absence ashen and cold. Feelings of the heart come and go amid the final days, but the perfect remedy can be found in bvdub’s music. Light, love – and, for now, reflective sadness – enshroud the music on A Careful Ecstasy. Our eyes are opening, but they’re not completely awake; they’re open enough to believe in another chance.
“Another Love”, with her perfumed, pink clouds of remembrance, repeating rhythms and a heavenly feminine vocal, ensures that bvdub’s style is instantly recognisable. The music subsides the pain of heartbreak as if the atmosphere concealed the hands of a healer. And that is just what another love is able to do. His retro house-styled beats and delicate ambient imagery are in full flow. “My Hinami” cleanses and renews afresh with a masculine vocal, awash in the sweet clouds of the past, but also of the desperate, aching pain after love has gone. The feminine vocal of “It Was For You, It Was For Us” promises us freedom from the heartbreak; you’re free today. And this is exactly what bvdub does – he frees us. His concoction of swirling, electronic beats, hi-hats wrapped up in lonely sheets and ambient after-glows transcend negative emotions, flipping them upside-down into a purely positive radiance for the spirit.
Love can be elusive. A Careful Ecstasy knows only too well that one chance can be over in the blink of an eye. It also knows of the desperation for a second chance, for another chance to taste the rainbow. And as the always-warm atmosphere slides into another, bvdub cuddles us in a dreamy rainbow of synth melody, until our open eyes see a new-found optimism. Not everything works out, no matter how much we may want it to. Although we may fight the notion, it’s usually for a very good reason; it protects us.
“If I Had Been A Better Man” features a soulful piano and vocals that take it all back in an act of atonement – ‘if” is the key. Stabs take a gorgeous melody and enwrap it with an awesome melodic hook. Repetition removes us from the pain. Yet there is also the subject of the oh-so-difficult concept of forgiveness. Yet, it’s one that we must face if we wish to progress and become that better man (or woman.) It’s effectively saying what can be so difficult to voice – I’m sorry.
After all of the heartbreak, the arrival of your special one makes it even more of an ecstatic experience. In a strange way, we must be thankful for the loss that’s guided us to a new-found love; it’s difficult to believe, but the lows are necessary to really appreciate the highs. Like love, his adorable music always leaves you wanting one more kiss from your valentine.
The ending of a relationship is also a release, a chance to start again. And victory always, always tastes sweeter having known defeat. It’s true that you have to sift through the dirt to find a precious diamond, but once you find her, don’t let her go. A Careful Ecstasy flirts between the love that’s still in our hearts and her scent that still lingers in the air. It’s music for the brokenhearted, but it’s also a healer for the unfulfilled in love – keep the faith. Above all things, A Careful Ecstasy is the faithful, cautious hope for new love. (James Catchpole)