Ambient music pioneer Brian McBride of Stars of the Lid Dies at 53


Brian McBride, one-half of the influential ambient music duo Stars of the Lid, has tragically passed away at the age of 53. The news was confirmed by his label Kranky to Pitchfork. The cause of death has not been disclosed. Stars of the Lid took to Instagram to express their grief, stating, “I loved this guy & he will be missed.”

Brian McBride, one-half of the ambient duo Stars of the Lid, passed away at 53. (X/starsofthelid)

McBride’s impact on the world of ambient and electronic music is immeasurable. Alongside his bandmate Adam Wiltzie, he co-founded Stars of the Lid in 1993. Their music, heavily inspired by figures like Brian Eno, Arvo Pärt, and Talk Talk, combined guitars, piano, strings, and horns to create classical-infused drone compositions. The duo’s innovation extended to sampling unconventional sources, such as a pet dog and an unassuming phone ring from Twin Peaks.

The band’s debut album, “Music for Nitrous Oxide” (1995), marked the beginning of a remarkable journey. Subsequent albums like “The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid” (2001) and “And Their Refinement of the Decline” (2007) solidified their reputation as pioneers of ambient music. Their later works were even recorded separately, reflecting their unique creative process.

McBride’s impact wasn’t confined to music; he was a formidable presence in the world of debate. Born in Irving, Texas in 1970, his passion for music and debate developed early on. He achieved impressive wins and top-five speaker awards during his time with Westbury High School and the University of Texas. His dedication extended to coaching debate teams, including Northwestern University, the University of Redlands, and the University of Southern California.

Beyond Stars of the Lid, McBride pursued diverse musical projects. He released solo albums like “When the Detail Lost Its Freedom” (2005) and “The Effective Disconnect” (2010). His collaboration with Kenneth James Gibson gave rise to the band Bell Gardens, exploring genres like chamber pop and folk rock.

Friends, fellow musicians, and the debate community have paid tribute to McBride’s legacy. Adam Wiltzie, his longtime collaborator, expressed his sorrow. The Texas Forensic Union Debate Team acknowledged his transformative role in the debate world.


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