Home News Influential Ambient Music Pioneer Brian McBride of Stars of the Lid Passes Away at Age 53

Influential Ambient Music Pioneer Brian McBride of Stars of the Lid Passes Away at Age 53

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Brian McBride Obituary

Brian McBride, one half of the seminal ambient music act Stars of the Lid, has left us, as confirmed by his record label, Kranky. “It is with a heavy heart that we announce the loss of Brian McBride, a man we deeply admired and will be sorely missed,” the band revealed on their Instagram account. The details surrounding his death remain undisclosed. McBride was 53.

McBride left an indelible mark on multiple generations of artists in the ambient and electronic music scenes through his collaborative efforts in Stars of the Lid. Relocating to Austin, Texas, in the early ’90s, McBride crossed paths with Adam Wiltzie, and the duo founded Stars of the Lid in 1993. With musical influences ranging from Brian Eno to Arvo Pärt and even Talk Talk, their compositions blended an array of instruments such as guitars, pianos, string sections, and horns to create a uniquely classical drone. Their sound, although minimalistic, was known for its eclectic sampling choices, which included everything from Wiltzie’s pet dog, Frog, to the ring of a phone in the TV show Twin Peaks.

Launching their music career with their debut album, “Music for Nitrous Oxide,” in 1995, the duo collaborated with musician Kirk Laktas for the project. Even after parting ways with Laktas, the duo’s creativity showed no signs of slowing down, delivering four back-to-back albums in subsequent years: “Gravitational Pull vs. the Desire for an Aquatic Life” in 1996, “The Ballasted Orchestra” in 1997, “Per Aspera Ad Astra” in 1998, and “Avec Laudenum” in 1999. Their most acclaimed albums, however, came later: 2001’s “The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid” and 2007’s “And Their Refinement of the Decline,” both of which gained considerable recognition. Though they haven’t released any new studio albums since 2007, the duo did grace stages sporadically over the last decade, including some elusive performances in 2012 and a set at a festival curated by Sigur Rós.

In terms of their creative process, Stars of the Lid favored a long-distance approach for their later albums. For “The Tired Sounds of…,” McBride shipped DAT tapes from his Chicago base to Wiltzie in Austin, enabling both artists to thoughtfully consider each other’s input. By the time they got around to “And Their Refinement of the Decline,” geographical differences were even more pronounced, with McBride residing in Los Angeles and Wiltzie settling in Belgium, which led them to adopt more advanced digital recording techniques.

In a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, McBride emphasized the importance of authenticity in their work. “Creating music should never be forced. Being attuned to your emotional state and letting inspiration flow naturally is key, especially when you have a long history of record releases. You don’t want to artificially generate emotion,” he expressed.

With the loss of Brian McBride, the music world loses a pioneer who pushed the boundaries of ambient music, leaving behind an enduring legacy that will continue to inspire for generations to come.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Brian McBride Obituary

What was Brian McBride famous for?

Brian McBride was a highly influential musician best known as one half of the ambient music duo Stars of the Lid. He had a significant impact on the genre and inspired multiple generations of ambient and electronic artists.

How did Brian McBride pass away?

The details surrounding Brian McBride’s death have not been disclosed. His record label, Kranky, confirmed his passing, and the band paid tribute to him on their Instagram account.

What were some of Stars of the Lid’s most famous albums?

Stars of the Lid gained considerable acclaim for their albums “The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid” (2001) and “And Their Refinement of the Decline” (2007). These albums are considered their most famous LPs.

When and how did Stars of the Lid form?

The duo was formed in Austin, Texas, in 1993 when Brian McBride met Adam Wiltzie. They initially bonded over shared musical influences like Brian Eno, Arvo Pärt, and Talk Talk and decided to collaborate, resulting in the formation of Stars of the Lid.

How did the band approach their later discography?

In their later years, Stars of the Lid used a long-distance approach to create music. For the album “The Tired Sounds of…,” McBride sent DAT tapes from Chicago to Wiltzie in Austin. By the time they made “And Their Refinement of the Decline,” McBride was based in Los Angeles and Wiltzie in Belgium, which led them to use digital recording methods.

What did Brian McBride say about the music-making process?

In a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, McBride emphasized the importance of authenticity. He believed that one should not force or manufacture emotion while creating music, but rather let inspiration flow naturally.

Have Stars of the Lid performed recently?

Although Stars of the Lid have not released new studio albums since 2007, they have performed sporadically over the past decade. Notably, they participated in some rare shows in 2012 and a festival set curated by Sigur Rós.

More about Brian McBride Obituary

  • Stars of the Lid Official Website
  • Kranky Record Label’s Announcement
  • Rolling Stone’s 2015 Interview with Brian McBride
  • Sigur Rós-curated Festival Performance
  • The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid on Spotify
  • And Their Refinement of the Decline on Spotify
  • Stars of the Lid’s Instagram Tribute to Brian McBride

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AustinLocal August 28, 2023 - 1:09 am

Wow, had no idea Stars of the Lid started here in Austin. Makes me even prouder to live here. RIP Brian.

JenTheGeek August 28, 2023 - 2:00 am

Never heard of these guys b4 but after reading this, totally gonna deep dive into their discography this weekend. thx for sharing.

MikeTheMusicGuy August 28, 2023 - 2:47 am

Man, this is such a huge loss. Brian McBride was a legend. If you haven’t listened to “And Their Refinement of the Decline,” do it. Now.

JustAGuy August 28, 2023 - 5:20 am

Authenticity in music is rare these days. McBride’s words about not forcing emotion are so on point. Big loss for the music world.

EcoWarrior August 28, 2023 - 9:26 am

Stars of the Lid’s music is like therapy for me. Hard to believe we won’t get more of it. Truly an end of an era.

SarahInTech August 28, 2023 - 12:16 pm

whoa, I never realized they recorded their later albums from such distant places. technology’s a trip, isn’t it?

FilmFan92 August 28, 2023 - 6:11 pm

didn’t know he influenced so many ambient and electronic artists, gotta check out more of their stuff.


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