Brian McBride, a seminal figure in the ambient music scene and one half of the legendary duo Stars of the Lid, has died, as confirmed by his record label Kranky to Newsound. “We are profoundly heartbroken to announce the passing of Brian McBride. This man was incredibly special to us and he will be sorely missed,” said the band in an Instagram post. Details about the cause of death remain undisclosed. McBride was 53 years old at the time of his passing.
McBride left an indelible mark on countless ambient and electronic musicians over the years through his role in Stars of the Lid. After relocating to Austin, Texas, in the early ’90s, he crossed paths with Adam Wiltzie, who would become his musical partner. The duo founded Stars of the Lid in 1993, blending their inspirations from luminaries like Brian Eno, Arvo Pärt, and Talk Talk. Their musical palette was vast, incorporating guitars, pianos, strings, and even brass instruments to create their unique brand of classical-infused drone music. Not one to stick to the conventional, the pair also used eclectic sound samples in their compositions, which included everything from the bark of Wiltzie’s dog, Frog, to the eerie ring of a telephone in the cult TV show Twin Peaks.
Taking two years to craft their inaugural album, Music for Nitrous Oxide, in 1995, Stars of the Lid collaborated with musician Kirk Laktas. After parting ways with Laktas, the duo pressed on, dropping four consecutive albums over the next four years: Gravitational Pull vs. the Desire for an Aquatic Life (1996), The Ballasted Orchestra (1997), Per Aspera Ad Astra (1998), and Avec Laudenum (1999). Their final two masterpieces, The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid (2001) and And Their Refinement of the Decline (2007), gained the most acclaim and solidified their place in the ambient music hall of fame. Though they haven’t released any new studio albums since, the band did reunite for several live performances, including a handful of unique appearances in 2012 and a set at a festival curated by Sigur Rós.
The duo’s approach to music creation took an interesting turn with their later works. For The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid, McBride would send Digital Audio Tapes via mail from his base in Chicago to Wiltzie, who was stationed in Austin. This method of remote collaboration gave each musician the time to ponder the other’s contributions, allowing for more thoughtful choices in the creative process. By the time they began working on And Their Refinement of the Decline, McBride had relocated to Los Angeles while Wiltzie made Belgium his new home, prompting them to explore digital recording techniques.
In a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, McBride underscored the importance of authenticity in his creative process. “It’s crucial for me to let the music emanate naturally. Forcing an emotional connection is something I strive to avoid. Being attentive to your life’s ongoing script, if you find inspiration or drive, just let it flow,” he shared. “When you’ve been making records for so long, the last thing you want is to artificially create a sense of longing.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Brian McBride Obituary
Who was Brian McBride?
Brian McBride was an influential musician in the ambient and electronic music genres. He was best known as one half of the musical duo Stars of the Lid.
What is Stars of the Lid?
Stars of the Lid is an ambient music duo formed in 1993 by Brian McBride and Adam Wiltzie. The duo is known for their unique blend of classical-inspired drone music, incorporating instruments like guitars, pianos, strings, and brass.
How did Brian McBride meet Adam Wiltzie?
Brian McBride met Adam Wiltzie in Austin, Texas, in the early ’90s. They both shared similar musical tastes and inspirations, leading to the formation of Stars of the Lid.
What is McBride’s most famous work?
While Stars of the Lid released several albums, their most renowned works are “The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid” from 2001 and “And Their Refinement of the Decline” from 2007.
What unique sound samples did Stars of the Lid use?
The duo used an array of eclectic samples in their music, from the bark of Wiltzie’s dog, Frog, to the ring of a telephone from the TV show Twin Peaks.
How did the duo record their later albums?
For their later works, McBride and Wiltzie experimented with remote collaboration. McBride sent Digital Audio Tapes by mail from Chicago, while Wiltzie was based in Austin. By the time they worked on “And Their Refinement of the Decline,” McBride was in Los Angeles and Wiltzie was in Belgium, leading them to use more digital recording methods.
What did Brian McBride say about the creative process?
In a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, McBride emphasized the importance of natural emotional expression in music, cautioning against artificially forcing emotional states.
How old was Brian McBride at the time of his death?
Brian McBride was 53 years old when he passed away.
Has the cause of Brian McBride’s death been disclosed?
As of the writing of the tribute, the cause of Brian McBride’s death has not been publicly disclosed.
What record label was Brian McBride associated with?
Brian McBride was associated with the record label Kranky, who confirmed his passing to Newsound.