[sic] Magazine

Arovane – Ve Palor

Almost a decade has passed since Uwe Zahn last released an album under his Arovane moniker. The music on this new album Ve Palor is harder-edged and more fractured than on previous outings but essentially little appears to have changed in the Arovane camp. The sound palette remains intact as does the intricacy of composition. In fact, Ve Palor could feasibly have been an alternative follow-up to 2000’s Atol Scrap , extending that album’s more angular elements in contrast to the melodic avenues explored on Lilies .

Ve Palor is Arovane’s first release on the n5MD label and is an 80+ minute opus (if you choose the download version with three extra tracks – shorter CD and vinyl versions are also available). I’m sure Zahn must be tired of the Autechre comparisons thrown at his music over the years, but they are valid. Ve Palor seemingly picks up the baton from Autechre at the point where, at the end of the 1990s, they began to chart an increasingly idiosyncratic course, releasing music freed from conventional notions of melody, structure and rhythm. Reminiscent of the Warp Records duo’s 1999 John Peel Session EP, these new Arovane tracks often sound like they’ve been blown apart and reassembled in a haphazard fashion with jagged edges and sonic shards in unexpected places.

The album’s DJ-baiting track titles are equally redolent of Autechre – ‘Scrai-n’, ‘Leptr’, ‘Cae Ni’ and so on – but they also seem entirely appropriate. It’s not hard to think of the track titles on Ve Palor as onomatopoeic, describing the glitchy, distorted and disjointed sounds within. ‘Intelligent Dance Music’ was a risible and flawed phrase often used to describe the likes of Arovane, but it does hint at the cerebral quality of this music. It’s unlikely that anything here will truly grab you by the heartstrings, but the complexity of the beats and the deft programming and composition are infinitely fascinating. And whilst your local postman won’t be cheerily whistling the refrain of ‘Gniddt’ any time soon, there are moments of real beauty on Ve Palor , such as the floating chords and melodic fragments on ‘Ccale Eqou’ which eventually break through the faltering rhythm track. Equally, tracks like the aforementioned ‘Scrai-n’ and the down-tempo ‘Scaabl’ are highly melodic; just not in a particularly conventional way. This is an album that you have to concentrate on, and listen to multiple times, for its qualities to shine through.

There’s no doubt that some will find Ve Palor a challenging listen, and some followers of n5MD’s more amorphous ethereal fare will likely flinch upon hearing it. Anyone who pines for the envelope-pushing electronica of the late 1990s will probably find that it fits the bill nicely, though: whilst not quite a time capsule, it is something of a throwback to those halcyon days. And for those who have followed Zahn’s career to date, it is yet another side of Arovane to explore. Above all, though, Ve Palor marks a welcome and long-overdue return for one of electronic music’s most consistently interesting artists.