Brian McBride, one half of the ambient duo Stars of the Lid, has died at the age of 53. “I am deeply saddened to tell everyone that Brian McBride has passed away,” a note on the band’s official Instagram page reads. “I love the guy & he will be missed.”
Born Brian Edward McBride in Irving, Texas, McBride met his bandmate Adam Wiltzie after moving to Austin, and the pair formed Stars of the Lid in 1993. They released their debut album, Music For Nitrous Oxide, which they recorded alongside Kirk Laktas, in 1995 via Sedimental. Stars of the Lid went on to release four albums in a row for each following year, including 1996’s Gravitational Pull vs. the Desire for an Aquatic Life, 1997’s The Ballasted Orchestra, 1998’s Per Aspera Ad Astra, and 1999’s Avec Laudenum. Six years after 2001’s The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid, the duo put out their final album, 2007’s And Their Refinement of the Decline, though they played a handful of shows in the years following its release.
Outside of his work with Stars of the Lid, McBride released two solo albums, 2005’s When The Detail Lost Its Freedom and 2010’s The Effective Disconnect, the latter of which served as the soundtrack to the documentary Vanishing of the Bees. After relocating to Los Angeles, he collaborated with Kenneth James Gibson under the name Bell Gardens, whose debut EP Hangups Need Company came out in 2010. It was followed by their debut full-length Full Sundown Assembly in 2012 and Slow Dawns for Lost Conclusions in 2014.
When asked about what he will miss the most when he’s gone, McBride said in a 2017 interview with FiveQuestions: “Surprises. Maybe you’re in a matter of fact mood, you’re driving home from doing a bunch of errands, you see somebody walking their dog, and the cat has gone on the walk with dog and the owner, and she’s running past them, showing off, scratching the trees. And you suddenly take delight in that.”
“The weird appreciation for the mundane or the banal,” he continued. “That’s what I’ll miss the most. The times when you can surprise yourself and notice things that seem quite matter of fact but are actually quite beautiful depending on how you look at it.”