Review Summary: It shows when something is rushed.
Bvdub is a machine. With three albums in just three months (and seven in 2011), there really is no other explanation; the man cannot be human. This is irrelevant in the quality of the music, of course, but it does beg the question of how good the music can actually be if it’s produced so quickly, and whether it’s stamped out mechanically or produced in a more organic fashion. In a review of the recent Ulrich Schnauss collaboration, I suggested that the missing element for his music has always been that human touch. Insofar as his very calculated and measured style produced an undeniably beautiful, though nevertheless sterile album. On learning about the sheer quantity of bvdub’s discography, I expected something quite similar. If nothing else there’s a limit on how much inspiration and vision one man can possess in such a short amount of time. As it turns out, I was completely wrong. Serenity
is full to the brim with emotion and ambition, only it could use a slightly more restrained touch.
The style of the album walks the line of washed out, reverb heavy ambient. Short, soft rolls of ambient tapestry gently fold over themselves; permeated by equally fazed-out vocal samples that swell and sink with the music beneath them. This coupling is perfected in “Love”, where the vocals drift off just in time to be overwhelmed by the music surrounding them. The treatment of them as a whole flows beautifully, as well as being something very rarely seen in similar musical excursions. Likewise, the loops at the beginning of “Unite” that slowly creep higher and higher are very well executed: it created a sense of anticipation as well as the relaxed giddiness that you’d expect. Cracks start to appear, however, in the joint between the two-part structure bvdub employs. After unanimously good starts, tracks will at some point escalate into something more loud and, some might say, engaging. This comes in many forms: from the simple addition of percussion and bass to string-led arpeggios, but the problem lies in the fact that the tracks are rarely ready for this change. For anyone paying close attention, the transition can be a little too sudden - which becomes a slightly larger issue when you consider that all but one of the tracks break the ten minute mark relatively comfortably. It’s a shame, because the brief loss of immersion tarnishes what is otherwise an incredibly solid and enjoyable release.
Moving past this slightly, bvdub has succeeded in matching the tones he set out for himself. “Energy” is, of course, the most vibrant. Choosing to indulge itself in the extra drums and melody sooner than expected. “Beauty” is more bass driven: taking on the personality of a dance song while remaining slightly too uniform to actually dance to. One can’t help but feel, though, that with just a little more time Serenity
could be something more than an exercise on mirroring themes. As is, the album strikes me as unfinished: with ideas left as threads and tracks sometimes clumsily glued together.