May 12, 2009

Arovane – Tides (2000, City Centre Offices)

Arovane is the IDM project of Uwe Schmidt, a German architect who began releasing 12”s on DIN and City Centre Offices in his mid-30s, a somewhat later age than many of the up-and-coming late ‘90s IDM artists just out of college. But with maturity comes depth, and Arovane’s debut CD “Atol Scrap” made a big stir on message boards in ’00, with a gritty, futuristic IDM sound similar to vintage Autechre, with just the right mix of static-y, glitch percussion and warm synthesizer tones. Only six months later, his second full-length “Tides” was released to even greater acclaim, with comparisons to IDM-superstars Boards Of Canada and placement on many “album of the year” lists. The album was a significantly different feel from Arovane’s IDM works thus far, leaning more into the down-tempo spectrum and away from abrasive glitchiness. “Tides” was apparently inspired by time spent at the Mediterranean seaside, and natural field recordings and tidal swells of soft static play a role in many of the tracks, alongside gentle plucked-string melodies and organic-sounding drum programming. The beats are vaguely trip-hop tinged, thus the comparisons to Boards Of Canada, but the mood is soft-spoken and melancholy and there are even some entirely beat-less ambient tracks, reminiscent of Susumu Yokota’s “Sakura”. Four of the tracks feature beautiful guitar playing by label-mate Christian Kleine, whose own releases for CCO are well worth hearing. Following this album, Arovane returned to his more glitch-oriented rhythmic IDM production for a few more years, with his most recent full-length “Lilies” released in ’04, and no new material since (according to Schmidt’s Myspace page, he is “having a break from making music”). The “Cycliph” 12” from ’02 and ‘03’s “Minth/Neel” 7” are both essential Arovane listening and have more of a connection to the soft, lonely sounds of “Tides”, mixed with a dose of futuristic glitch beats.