Arovane, aka 35-year-old German Uwe Zahn, has in the past few years produced a split 7", several 12"s, an EP, remix work (Various Artists "8,8.5,9 remixes" - Arovane's 'amx' is one of my personal favorites) and now, two full length albums: the debut "Atol Scrap" on Din and "Tides" on the new City Centre Offices label.
"Atol Scrap" is 64 + minutes of blissful electronic ebb and flow that finds a balance somewhere between the mellow IDM of the early '90s (think Aphex Twin "Selected Ambient Works 85-92"), the quirky rhythms of more recent IDM (think Autechre) and the repetition and attention to detail of the Chain Reaction minimalists. The key to most every track is dreamy synth pad and bass melodies, accentuated by mostly gentle, abstract rhythmic sounds and fuzzy atmospheres. The mid to latter section of the album has a few tracks where the percussion is much more pronounced and abrasive, which is somewhat of a disappointment as the melodies are no longer the obvious focal point. But, he's rather good at that style of track too and it helps create a good variety throughout the album.
With only 1 album under his belt, Zahn has apparently already decided to change direction. "Tides" is 40 minutes in length and although it's recognizable as Zahn's work it's also very different from "Atol Scrap". As the title suggests, the album is inspired by visits to the sea and the memories of waves wash ashore in several tracks. Here Zahn utilizes some slow motion hip hop styled beats for his cloudy/fluid melodies and atmospheres, adding various samples (water, bits of voice, chirping crickets, sea gulls, bell tones, etc.) and clean electric guitar played by fellow Berliner Christian Kleine on 4 of the 9 tracks. The 3 and 1/2 minute guitar and wash loop that is "Seaside" captures the entire feel of this album and just might receive my 'most beautiful track of the year' award. All of Zahn's music is a bit sullen and relaxing in a subtle and beautiful way, no matter how he produces it. It's hard to believe that these are his first 2 albums as they are quite impressive. He's another electronic artist to definitely keep track of in the years to come ...