01 This Place Has Only Known Sadness
02 We Said Forever
03 The Promise (reprise) Feat. David Williams
04 Would It Be The Same
05 There Was Nothing But Beauty In My Heart
06 A Taste Of Your Own Medicine
As far as it is possible to make distinctions within the genre, ambient can typically be divided into several stylistic groups. There are the Chthonic rumblings; the abstract, mechanical droning and the glacial engulfing, a prime example of which is the artist Netherworld which provides a hyperborean tapestry of hoarfrost and borealis. The release “I Remember” by Bvdub is, in his words, a “translation” of the album “Morketid” by the aforementioned Netherworld which transfigures the sound into another category of ambient, one that is aery and buoyant, a celebration of tetherless atmosphere frolic; a cascade of vaporous mists, fuming clouds and vibrant solar blooms. Like a cool breeze the sound refreshes as opposed to oppressing, crystallizing thought rather than hemming it through strict over-vigorous plateaus of sound. Unfamiliar with the original album that forms the foundations of “I Remember”, I have found Netherworld’s other work quite solemn and melancholy. “I Remember” starts off with this taint of sadness inherited from its predecessor but progresses contemplatively into an almost jubilatory mood. Bvdub has taken an ode to nature, what I assume to be the characteristic Netherworld album of album of awe, horror and reawakening in the face of the natural world and has made it more human, more internalized and replete with emotions that are simpler, less romantic yet somehow closer to home. The notion of memory is to be found in the title and in the artist’s own statement, the album itself seems like a retrospective via proxy, akin to the tepid mire of memory from which we draw our consolations and inspirations.
Yet the atmosphere is so far only the canvas, the backdrop upon which the author decides to weave in the more straightforward elements. With this, the release takes a step away from purely soundscape ambient and one into the realm of more structured electronica. A semblance of beat, repetition and vocalization emerges, pushing the glacial auditory horizon even further into the background. Like Skadi or Desiderii Marginis, an adherence to utter freeform and slow mellifluous elaboration of texture is dropped in favour of loops, beats and stifled melodies which introduce a peculiar kind of melodious minimalism. At times the electronic beats which are added over the sound come off as too forced and unnecessary. I would have preferred if they were less prominent, as they introduce a slightly jarring funk element to an album of otherwise greater depth. On the other hand, it does play into the mosaic of memory which the author strives to capture, given that he has acknowledged his own penchant for trance music. To the uninitiated, it may seem like an alien intrusion and a break in the flow of the track.
The interesting highlights which evoked a particularly strong aesthetic reaction were the moments in the standout track “There was nothing but beauty in my heart” which features minimal guitar and ethereal female voice. The tone and texture of the album shifts pleasingly from track to track without coming across as too disjointed. The tracks are also of satisfying length, a oft overlooked facet of ambient, not overstaying their welcome and not cutting off prematurely. Overall the album is to be recommended if one appreciates an element of flair and finesse in ambient. The tracks, or “translations” are carefully constructed rather than whimsical and leave a pronounced impression of the flight of thought, the expansive vistas of memory and the immense currents of the mind. It is mood lightening music for contemplation made with depth and subtlety. Simultaneously lucidity and veil, it is a catalyst for nostalgia and a stirring of thoughts.