Label: City Centre Offices
Catalogue Number: Towerblock 020
Year of Release: 2004
A1 Ten Hours
A2 Windy Wish Trees
A3 Passage To Nagoya
A4 Cry Osaka Cry
A5 Pink Lilies
B2 Tokyo Ghost Stories
B3 Instant Gods Out Of Box
B4 Good Bye Forever
Ten hours is the time it takes to fly from Berlin to Japan, a trip carried out by Uwe Zahn in 2003. He came back, and made this record, which is very similar in tone and feel to his first City Centre Offices album Tides (reviewed here). So similar in fact, that the track Ten Hours features the same harpsichord sound that peppered the earlier album, but this is the only track on which it features. It is mixed here with crowd noises, which we assume are from the Japanese airport, and sparks off, not feelings of sadness exactly, but contemplation, and not the sort of mood you would necessarily expect from an album about a (first?) visit to a foreign, exotic country.
Windy Wish Trees is similarly contemplative and down-tempo, but things to pick up on Passage to Nagoya. The sample over the first third of the track is a female voice. I am going to guess is the train announcer, Nagoya being the fourth largest city in Japan and home to the world's largest train station by floor area. The speed of the beats surpass any previous Arovane track, but the melody runs at half the time, which creates a sense of slow pace, and of holding something back. All drums cut out with a good chunk of the track still to go, and the melody continues for some time, developing a counter-point towards the end. I'm tempted to posit that this reflects a journey on the famous Bullet Train or Shinkansen, but fear I may disappear up my own behind if I do.
Track four returns to the Boards of Canada-style upbeat number that also featured on Tides, a driving drum loop, many layered melody lines, and a vocal sample hidden by effects. Much more jolly than the title would suggest. It was here though that I started to notice something that spoiled the rest of the album a little for me - the majority of tracks from here on in just seem to stop - the drums will cut out, the melody go on for anywhere between 5 to 50 seconds, then that's it. Once I'd noticed it, I couldn't stop noticing it, and it began to irritate me. Regardless, this was a good tune, if a little overlong.
Final track for Side A, and a rare vocal collaboration with Kazumi, was probably better in theory than practise, as it fails to gel. Neither a song proper, nor a mood piece. An oddity.
Side B's highlight is Tokyo Ghost Stories, on the surface similar to Cry Osaka Cry, but with more depth, and a lovely effected cymbal line and sparse melody. Track eight matched fast drums with a fast melody for a change, and is probably the closest to a danceable track you're likely to get from Arovane. Which brings us neatly to the end - because we may not get anything out of Arovane ever again. Good Bye Forever is apparently to be taken literally, Uwe having packed up his gear after recording this. The few entries since 2004 on discogs quickly reveal themselves to be credits for existing tracks used on new compilations or mixes, which is a shame. The album does not end on a downer though, but on a piece of beatless ambient, filled with warm strings and piano, which suddenly, but not surprisingly, stop.