East of Oceans: 121 Years
121 Years presents a new and different side of Brock Van Wey, whose bvdub recordings have been entrancing ambient soundscaping devotees for years now. It's thus wholly fitting that the new release is issued under a new moniker, namely East of Oceans. Imagine ethereal loops lifted from a typical bvdub track paired with rapid-fire beat patterns redolent of drum'n'bass and jungle and you're on your way to conjuring 121 Years' trance-like sound.
Some of Van Wey's signature moves emerge in East of Oceans, despite the obvious differences between the project and bvdub. Loops and samples are used extensively, a move that in turn intensifies the music's trance-like character, and Van Wey's open-hearted emotionalism emerges, too, in the material's melodic content. All seven of 121 Years' tracks are long-form workouts that range between nine and thirteen minutes in length, and in terms of mood each progressively flirts with ecstasy, just as a prototypical bvdub track does albeit in radically different manner. The generous track length also allows for multiple mood-shifts within a given piece, such that “1 Night To Rule The World,” for example, evolves through passages of slightly different emphasis—funk, drum'n'bass, and trance among them—during its frenetic, twelve-minute run.
After settling into a hard-burning and generally acid house-styled groove, “3 Years Gone” enters ecstatic territory when a female vocalist's soulful musings repeatedly appear. When vocals swirl dizzyingly during “10 Days We Shared” while a robust backbeat kicks up some serious dust, it's easy to picture a festival crowd surrendering collectively to the material's rave-ready sound. That 121 Years is body music is never more apparent than during the opening moments of “1 Night To Rule The World” when Van Wey arranges a handful of vocal snippets into a sensual mating dance. The album's delicate side comes to the fore in the acoustic guitar picking that inaugurates “1995 To Forever,” even if said sound vanishes into the total sound mass that builds thereafter before re-emerging during a beautiful mid-song break.Van Wey's certainly lost none of his characteristic magic, no matter the change in style. His music has never sounded more melodically alluring and potent than it does during “1983” and especially “2 Summers Of Love,” and his multi-layered handling of arrangement proves to be as seductive as ever, as shown by the dense weave of claps, voices, beats, and textures that gives “9 Winters To Tell You” its kinetic drive. No bvdub fan needs be scared off by the infusion of beat thunder into Van Wey's world, either; in fact, it wouldn't be inaccurate to say that were one to strip away the beats and slow the tempo of any one of the album's pieces, one might be left with something not too unlike a bvdub setting.