Brock Van Wey (bvdub) played the closing set on the opening (Thursday) night of Rafael Anton Irisarri's, Substrata festival this year, flying up from the Bay Area and bringing with him an hour of his most beautiful, and powerful sound. It was the first time I've seen him live, and whilst never declaring himself as a 'performer' as such, it was a fitting, immersive and euphoric end to the first night, as Brock sat with his n5MD hoody pulled over his head, carefully melting, weaving, and harmonizing vocals, synths and entire sections of some his greatest records to the backing of Leo Mayberry's visuals.
Playing on the opening night meant Brock was able to relax and enjoy Seattle for the remainder of the week, and given the festival was an evening affair, I was able to tempt Brock into a Crate Digging session - a rare opportunity that I could've only dream't of making happen. He is of course, an absolute gentlemen, and happily obliged in-between a few leisurely beers in the sun, so Brock, Mike Cadoo (n5MD) and I, hit a couple of Seattle's best, including Jive records in Fremont, and Wall of Sound in Capitol Hill.
Whilst we weren't looking for anything specific, we ended up coming across a little IDM treasure-trove, which many of us wouldn't necessarily expect from Brock. With Arovane missing out on the festival due to illness, it was an almost fitting ode to his absence, so here's what we found.
One of IDM's most under-rated producers it seems, this was an unknown EP for Brock and I, as we were only familiar with Phonem's albums for the most part, but the Phonetik EP from 1999 was a steal at $8, with this track, Bitstream, my favourite of the day.
A completely new artist to me, Brock said he used to listen to Accelera Deck a bunch back in the early 00's. The Halo EP features remixes by Arovane too.
Static Caravan has played host to a wealth of great artists of the years, include ISAN and Manual, but I had never come across Magnétophone before. Brock didn't pick this one out for me, but it was in the same area as many of the others he was digging through, and by now, I was on an IDM trip, so seeing the label and the year (1999) I had to give it a spin.
If you're into Aphex Twin's 'busier' stuff as AFX or even Caustic Window, then you'll enjoy this EP. A gentle melody backing a bustling, fractured and choppy IDM beat.
Another one from Accelera Deck, Brock picked out the Disquieting LP for me, which features some more great stuff from Chris Jeely. My favourite tracks aren't around to stream unfortunately but the track Discordia below, is a good sign of what you can expect - subtle melodies and some intriguing beat work.
Brock's record knowledge really came to the fore with his last selection - an unmarked double LP from the Plug Research label. I had no idea bout these guys, and looking back now they've played host to some of electronica's greatest including Lustmord, Dntl, John Tejada, Thomas Fehlmann and Flying Lotus.
This was at the bottom of my priority pile (you know how it goes) given how big the stack was getting, so I ended up not purchasing it given the price, but I made sure to remember the one track that stood out on it - this brutal electro/techno track by Lucid Lung.
It wasn't all IDM, as Mike Cadoo treated himself to a Joy Division record amongst others, and Brock was tempted by a couple of Slayer records - I'm sure the magnificent/tattoo-esque artwork was an attraction! I however, managed to pick up a few new bits in the form of Alva Noto, and Alessandro Cortini's highly critisized, Forse 3, a classic from Casino Versus Japan (Go Hawaii), and a long sought-after compilation called Futuristic Experiments #004, featuring Akufen, Donnacha Costello and Sutekh.
Big thank you to Brock and to Mike for hanging and helping me find some great music I might've otherwise missed, and for a fantastic weekend all-round.
Substrata 1.5 festival review to follow soon...
(Pictured below- Mike and Brock putting the world to rights, at Jive Records, Seattle)