- Brock Van Wey might occupy a niche in the ambient world, but his music comes in all shapes and sizes. He makes sweepingly emotional tracks that can take up entire sides of vinyl or get compressed into small bursts of feeling. He's as good at melodic epics and vocal tracks as he is at drone. With every bvdub release, you have a basic idea of the type of sounds you'll hear—reverb, wistful melodies, dubby delay effects—but how they might come out is less predictable. Epilogues For The End Of The Sky, the first album of the year from the prolific artist, finds him back in epic mode after the fragmented Yours Are Stories Of Sadness. But in its own way, Epilogues For The End Of The Sky is stripped-back. Van Wey simplifies his arrangements, burying feelings beneath a haze of reverb and effects.
Like another Van Wey album, Safety In A Number, Epilogues For The End Of The Sky has a grandiose title and long tracks, but that's where the similarities end. Safety In A Number was the apex of a melodramatic style built around syrupy acapellas that sound like they could have been taken from trance tracks. By comparison, Epilogues For The End Of The Sky retreats into gauzy synth textures, guitar and piano. Instrumentation and occasional vocal whispers drown in a sea of reverb and delay effects, so that each element seems to leave behind an enormous vapour trail. It resembles post-rock in sound and style, lacking the techno-influenced framework of past bvdub albums.
The album's emotional content can be ambiguous. It doesn't come with an explanatory note or the narratives of previous bvdub releases. (The track titles are lines of verse, though that doesn't offer much more context.) These are big tracks that hit like slow-motion tidal waves, their sighing melodies crashing around you. The best moments come when these walls of sound dissipate into moody outros, like when the piano cuts through the smokescreen in "On Deaf Hearts Your Prayers They Fall." The album works best during these inverted climaxes, in which the quietest moments make the most impact.
Given how much Van Wey's songs have varied in the past, the uniform nature of Epilogues For The End Of The Sky can feel unimaginative—it's not until the 50-minute mark, with the majestic rhythm of "Footsteps Fade If Not Your Pain," that you start to hear anything that diverges from the style of the opening track. Each of these songs is richly textured with different instruments, like the acoustic guitar and weepy synths of "Sparkling Legions Turn To Black," but they all move in the same gradual way.
That Epilogues For The End Of The Sky is 76 minutes long is par for the course for Van Wey, but it could've benefitted from a shrewd editor. After the overwhelming Safety In A Number, it's nice to hear Van Wey try something different. But the album is too vague and pared down to match his best work. That's only pared down by this artist's standards—for many others, these tracks would count as majestic, heart-rending epics. But in Van Wey's case, Epilogues For The End Of The Sky is a pleasant passage in his catalogue rather than an exciting new chapter.
01. On Deaf Hearts Your Prayers They Fall
02. With Broken Wings & Giants Tall
03. Sparkling Legions Turn To Black
04. Your Painted Armor Aches To Crack
05. Clouds Besiege What You Remain
06. Footsteps Fade If Not Your Pain
07. Love Is Never Asking Why
08. It All Ends With The Coming Sky