Physical distances are there for all to see, but the longer, seemingly insurmountable distances are, to outside eyes, invisible. They linger in the silent gaps, in the deadened pause, afflicting two lovers with its rose-scented disease. The distance hurts because it’s close to the heart, and yet the relationship finds itself exiled to the soul’s Sahara. In the physical world, no distance like it is known; it would be futile, impossible even, to get a true reading.
A break-up, a failing friendship or a long running feud are all scented with the same poison, creating dissonant distances around the world. It can rip a relationship apart, beyond saving. A History of Distance reflects this struggle in a world where, despite good intentions and diplomatic efforts, conflict is rife. Long distance relationships can work, but they require some serious work, and the percentages don’t look good. A phone call can’t replace a hug. Distances are subjective; Paris is in another country, another continent, yet from this island it’s only a couple of hours away via the channel tunnel or just 40 minutes away in the air. On the coast of south east England, you can see lights hovering, with signs of people, of European civilization, on the other side. It’s so tantalizingly close, yet so far away.
Sure, bvdub is prolific. He’s appeared more regularly than the word “shark” has on the shockingly bad yet highly watchable movies that appear on the Syfy channel. bvdub takes us across calm seas, without a sharknado or a ghost shark in sight, sailing across the deep blue on serene synths. Van Wey’s music gives you an instant high. The synths are beautiful, but they’re shot through with sad feelings; seeing her smile is a beautiful thing, but when it’s for the last time you can’t help but feel your heart deflating.
Van Wey’s music is an uncharted place, a Bermuda triangle that reels us inside, somewhere between paradise and mournful longing. We all pass through. Some people remain lost, trapped in the blackened murk of their personal, submerged thoughts; sad shipwrecks that bulge with the detritus of dreams that, for one reason or another, never worked out. The atmosphere pulls and tugs, unable to let go, begging her to come near. The male vocal swirls beside the female vocal in an opaque dance of courtship, but it is hazy, like a prom night washed of its memory by a fountain of punch. The usual rhythmic backbone is as strong as ever, but as we’ve seen in the past, it can take up to 10 minutes before the gates open and we fly without wings. Two distinct elements – the padded beats and the golden harmony – become one, both crazy and cool.
Watery synths send the listener to cloud nine, only to dump a desperate vocal amid the white, fluffy clouds, bringing the atmosphere down until it crashes into the hopelessness of the gutter. Van Wey’s subtle melancholy has been around for a while, but in the past it’s been masked by the high BPM. On A History Of Distance, what had once held the anguish back has now disappeared, and not even the skip of a garage-inflected beat can jolt the music out of its lull, pluck it from this pretty thorn of sadness. The padded beat, instead of pushing the music through, is a wall that stops us from the promise of love. We lie on either side, palms touching against its great divide. Separation hurts. Lost looped lyrics flutter in the light, swirling halfheartedly, facing a seemingly dead end. Tunnels and airports connect millions of people, but it can’t connect us. The coda, “A History of Distance”, attempts to carry on, its heavy breaks eventually arriving to bring some kind of acceptance, some kind of first aid, with its kindly resolution; you poured out the sunshine when it began to rain.
Don’t let the music’s beauty fool you – she screams at the way of things, at the gap between the two lovers, between you and me. It leaves us as ghosts; ghosts of what we once were. Now, all that’s left is a tree without its leaves. bvdub stretches out his music magestically, the harmony swaying and then tearing in an infinite war between the palpable tension and the relief of the release. The vacant branch stretches out its arm, calling out across the distance, a crying statue that can’t grasp the dream.; it’s rooted to the ground. bvdub’s music has always had a touch of euphoria, a phoenix rising, but his music has a sensitive side, too. After all, Brock Van Wey’s home in China is a long way from America.
It’s left open as to whether she can hear the music. Can the truth really reach her, when we’re oceans apart? (James Catchpole)
Release Date: September 2