by: Arovane

In a time when debut films, plays, or novels are seen as the sole make-or-break factor in an artist's career, one should still never underestimate a creative force that truly doesn't come into its own until at least the second time around. This is why Arovane's Tides should be a testament to waiting to see how something develops rather than letting it all fade away too soon. It is -- surprisingly -- a lovely, lilting album of electronic class. Few people could have predicted the quantum leap of quality between the debut and this release. As soon as the first track -- "Theme" -- begins, one knows things are different: a harpsichord trills over waves of big, slow beats, a languid pace lives on yet with a progression that keeps it breathing, and everything sounds, well, correct. True, where Arovane seemed much too eager to ape idols such as Aphex Twin or Autechre in 1999's debut Atol Scrap, the goal here seems to be to take a different tack: try and outdo Boards of Canada. Where Boards of Canada excelled was in the endlessly fascinating dynamic between gorgeous melodies and absolutely huge basslines. In Tides, Arovane seems to have taken such a delightful premise and carried it through from a new vantage point. So you get the ambient thumps of songs like "A Secret" (with enough high swishes to leave you wanting more), the rumbling, slow breaks of songs like "The Storm" (with a layering of melodies that demands to be appreciated), or even the subtle crescendo of songs like "Epilogue." Indeed, if Arovane's debut was trying to be magnetic with piddling about, this follow-up is just hypnotic due to good old fashioned songwriting. Again, it's true that one shouldn't underestimate second albums. Tides might not capture that sheer dynamic exquisiteness of a release like Music Has the Right to Children, yet its ideals are often just as splendorous. Surprisingly short, sweet, and not too many bloops and bleeps. This is just about everything that minimalist electronic musicians should try and emulate. Tides is beautiful work. ~ Dean Carlson

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