Arovane: Ve Palor

When Lilies, Uwe Zahn's 2004 Arovane album for City Centre Offices, ended with “Good Bye Forever,” it was read at the time by Arovane fans as a cryptic sign that Zahn was ending the project and walking away from recording. Jump ahead nine years and we find him returning, much to the surprise of electronica listeners, with Ve Palor and the Arovane project alive once more. Naturally, the immediate question concerns whether the style Zahn so indelibly presented on albums like 2000's Atol Scrap and 2002's Icol Diston (both on DIN) has altered during the break. The simple answer: not much—the Arovane style asserts itself clearly throughout the twelve-track collection (fifteen, if three download-only tracks are included)—though that in itself doesn't surprise too much once one learns that the material wasn't wholly created in the last year or two. In fact, an original version of Ve Palor was scheduled to be released on DIN in 2003 but didn't come to pass (perhaps the shutting-down of the label in 2003 had something to with it). Consequently, the 2013 model isn't entirely new material but instead presents tracks created as far back as 2002 as well as some produced as recently as early 2013.

All such details are probably moot for Arovane fans anyway: that Ve Palor isn't appreciably different from Zahn's previous output will probably be perfectly alright as far are they're concerned. Wisely, no clarification is provided as to when the individual tracks were created, a move that prevents the listener from getting sidetracked from simply listening. Of course, it's eminently possible that the production methods used in generating the material have altered dramatically from then to now, but again Zahn has opted to include no details about gear on the CD package, the producer seemingly content to let the sixty-five-minute collection speak for itself.

Representative titles such as “Cleiy” and “Cae nij” carry on the inexplicable track-titling tradition long associated with Autechre and Arovane, and there are moments (“Ccale Eqou,” for instance) when one could be forgiven for thinking that one has mistakenly put on Tri Repetae or Chiastic Slide rather than Ve Palor, so small is the stylistic distance separating the acts (the gradual tempo shift that occurs within “Ve Palor” recalls a similar move made by Autechre on Chiastic Slide, for example). Glistening sing-song melodies, fidgety electronic-funk rhythms, and abundant textural detail (whirrs, clicks, smears, and the like) are plentiful throughout Ve Palor, and Zahn's identifiable gift for crafting a full-force kick-drum is once again evident; so, too, is his talent for fashioning quieter tracks of delicate sparkle, as “Scaabl” illustrates. Certainly the Berlin-based producer's reputation for meticulous sound design and beat sculpting won't be negatively affected by the release. On a final note, that a piece like “C ll lt” sounds as if it might just as easily have been created in 2003 as 2013 may be seen as a good or bad thing, depending on one's attitude. On the one hand, it could be used to argue for the timelessness of the style in question; on the other, it might be cited as evidence of the stagnancy of the genre.

December 2013