Encounter Vast, by Bro Biden

I was very excited to find a new release from Vivarium Recordings in my feed – I recognized the name Bro Biden instantly and hopped over to the band camp page. When I arrived, before I could click play, I discovered another blurb had already been written – while not exactly high praise, the final words of the author read “good luck“. I read this and immediately took it as a challenge. What could be inside that is so gnarly that it would warrant such a warning? Intrigued, I dove in, and what I discovered was a nearly bottomless pool of beautiful creativity.

To say this release is a journey would be somewhat of an understatement – this album takes the listener by the wrist on an orbital circumnavigation of the planet, and perhaps some other planets while we’re out there! IT’s easy to see/hear why listeners might be intimidated, but I can assure you that listening with the right ears and mindset can make all the difference.

The first half of the album (track-wise) is fairly brief and chaotic – starting strong with The Oz Factor – which feels like a baptism in drone. Coaxing the listener into a state of ease with a human voice, quickly being chopped and dissolved into pure texture. The narrow, radio style sound is flushed into glorious stereo excellence as the voice wraps around you a dozen times – smothering you in acid wind.

Turning on a dime with track two – Lifted – is a sloshy post-vapor romp utilizing heavy industrial sounds to craft a unique groove. Hissing and throbbing with the lethargic beat, yet maintaining a sense of urgency with massive kick-drums propelling towards the finish line.

Upon reaching the third track, with a name I won’t even try to type out, we are treated to something impeccably dense and expressive. Upfront and bold use of sonic stretching to the point of total dissociation – crafting a brutalist structure out of pixelated punches and demonic voices sputtering through the ghost hunting equipment. Consider this your point of no return…

At this point, the track-list would tell you that you’re halfway through the album – however the contrary is true, the first 3 tracks are merely the tip of the iceberg on this one. Track 4 – Staging – is where I found myself becoming truly lost and captured in the sound. Curious post-vapor sounds surge slowly with intention for the first 3 minutes, slowly morphing into a hazy plunderphonic stomp. The progression is slow and natural until around halfway through the track when mellow sub bass from the club next-door begins to bleed into our mix – ramping the sounds into flourishing atmospheric stabs that are as interesting as they are satisfying. The energy continues to amass and swirl towards the end of the piece, eventually churning itself into stacked acid squelches and furious percussive bells.

Finally we arrive at the intimidating title track, Encounter Vast. For those not accustomed to drone/harsh noise/ambient – a few things might throw the listener off, from the 17 minute runtime to the buzzing, gritty post-vapor introduction. Unfortunately for these folks, they are missing some of the most luscious and dank fruit of the Brobient tree….. Introducing itself with a quick and brutal funk-romp, production swerves into high energy by grabbing the bouncer by the throat, staring him in the eyes while quivering with intense fury. The chopping and layering of sounds becomes hectic, but not to an unmanageable degree – with sounds opting to be organized into digestible chunks of flavor and rhythm rather than an ominous fluid concoction. We are witness to deconstruction and reconstruction on a grand scale – the track meandering between different beat structures and mindset, all strung together by fuzzy tangled wires.

Halfway through the Encounter, sounds begin to stomp around in gigantic buckets. Tempo be damned as we wander from set piece to set piece – juggling astoundingly different energies as we roam around in our dirty boots. Of all the tracks – this one highlights the plunderphonic/sound collage style – with a first listen almost translating as a hodgepodge of moments rather than a cohesive structure. However after repeat listens you will find amazing threads running through the full 17 minutes, from the dribbling bubbles of zippy synths hovering over the mix, or the generous use of huge womp-stomps – which might be the most obvious nod to the source material you can find. The last 3-4 minutes of track are a delicious swirl of resolved 4-to-the-floor vapor sounds as well as some stabbing callbacks to earlier in the journey….

Bathed in a blissful blue light, we reach at the closing track, Theophany. Strap yourself to the inside of a Dyson Sphere and hit record on your Tascam – need I say more? Okay – perhaps a little more – this track appropriately pushes the chopping and destruction of samples to the limits, managing to morph stuttering waves into cohesive rhythms and phrases. It’s thoughtful yet ominous, and a very nice comedown after the two previous endeavors.

Encounter Vast is both a brilliant experimental exercise as well as an enjoyable listen. I found myself descending into brilliant ecstasy with this one – lush, dense and vibrant. Impressive to say the least, utilizing quite a unique hybrid of post-vaporwave and experimental ambient, with just a touch of industrial noise.

I am very excited to see where Bro Biden and the Brobient Hivemind are going. The simple concept and methodology behind this strange new sub-genre is impressive and fresh with just enough experimentation to make me simultaneously smile ear to ear and listen with intent.

The album is available now from the fine folks at Vivarium Recordings.

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