Dismounting, I offer you wine.
And you ask, "Where are you bound?"
You say, "I've found no fame or favors;
I must return to rest in the South Mountain."
You leave, and I ask no more -
White clouds drift on and on.
If you find that a bit much, you're in the wrong place; as Van Wey himself would tell you, his music is intensely personal, deeply emotional and unafraid of seeming too sentimental or pretentious to those unwilling to take it on its own terms. It's the kind of uncompromising approach that's led to fervent fans and alliances with like-minded labels, and now Van Wey becomes the first "outside" artist to release something on the storied and impeccable (and sometimes monomaniacal) Echospace label.
Aside from staking his claim as an unabashedly private and poignant artist, though, the above quotation points to the feelings contained by Van Wey's restless, roiling, profoundly beautiful ambient music. The tracklisting here might begin evoking regret, loss and isolation, but even then the compassionately seething mix of chords, voices and static and Van Wey's mastery of emotional tone makes White Clouds Drift On and On more comforting than alienating. In some ways this is the anti-Untrue; both Van Wey and Burial long for the way "the scene" used to be and want above all else to make personally resonant music. But where Burial evokes a precise variety of urban loss and ennui, Van Wey takes us out of the city and even out of ourselves; White Clouds Drift On and On could be the soundtrack to an endless freefall, the world's most gentle rollercoaster, restless sleep, a place where nothing ever hurts.
For the 77 minutes of the first disc, the listener is cast gloriously adrift, without many reference points. Saying that "A Chance to Start Over" is Eluvium mixed with Gas or that the opening "Too Little Too Late" could be a beatless, melted version of The Field played over a string arrangement only partially explains what they sound like, and doesn't at all sum up their beauty. On its own, Van Wey's work makes for one of the most striking, flawless and outright gorgeous ambient albums to come along in a while. As a result the second disc is almost a bridge too far; Echospace's Steve Hitchell (AKA Intrusion) loved Van Wey's work so much that he offers a full 79 minute dub techno take on White Clouds Drift On and On. The result confirms Van Wey's contention that what he does isn't dub in any sense. For fans of the label or of deep, luscious dub techno the "Intrusion Shape"s of the second disc are gravy, but crucially it sounds like nothing more than a really good Echospace album. That's nothing to sneeze at, but Van Wey's own work sounds like something else entirely.
Wed / 30 Sep 2009
01. Too Little Too Late
02. I Knew Happiness Once
03. Forever A Stanger
04. A Gentle Hand To Hold
05. A Chance To Start Over
06. White Clouds Drift On And On
01. White Clouds Drift On And On (Intrusion Shape I)
02. A Chance To Start Over (Intrusion Shape II)
03. A Gentle Hand To Hold (Intrusion Shape III)
04. Forever A Stanger (Intrusion Shape IV)
05. I Knew Happiness Once (Intrusion Shape V)
06. Too Little Too Late (Intrusion Shape VI)