Boomkat Product Review:
Uwe Zahn's turn-of-the-millenium masterpiece, inspired by a vacation in the south of France and rendered mostly on harpsichord and jazz drum samples. It's a world away from the IDM intricacies of his DIN output and still sounds peculiar and intimate over 20 years later, fresh with a new remaster at D&M. It was also the first album we ever pressed up and distro'd, so it'll always have a special place in our Herzen.
After a few years of acclaim for his hyper-focused and precision edited electronic productions, Uwe Zahn was craving something different. The idea for 'Tides' bubbled to the surface after Zahn had a vacation in France and was inspired by the peaceful landscape to make field recordings, which ended up forming some of the album's background textures. Zahn wanted to find a way to avoid the ultra-processed sci-fi IDM aesthetic, and bring some feeling back to his sound - and he did it with help from his friend Christian Kleine. Sifting through Kleine's record collection, Zahn found a handful of jazz records and set to work recording the drums to his sampler and assembling tracks around them. Using a hardware sequencer rather than a computer and a delay unit, the tracks ended up retaining an organic sound while displaying Zahn's outsized engineering skills.
For the instrumental parts, Zahn took an even weirder route than he did with the percussion, using both harpsichord sounds and guitar improvisations from Christian Kleine. The woozy synth textures that elevated his early productions are almost completely absent, replaced by Kleine's folk whimsy and the medieval clang of the spinet. If all this sounds hard to imagine, just take a quick listen to 'Theme', where thick, jerky drums are interrupted quickly by harpsichord riffs that aren't so very different from Zahn's memorable synth melodies, just tonally - and culturally - shifted. It's unexpected how well the sounds coalesce, and its to Zahn's credit that he managed to create such a coherent theme out of such disparate elements. When Kleine's guitar is introduced on the album's title track, strumming gentle yacht rock reverberations over loose, reversed breaks and seagull calls, the album's sun-bleached vacation mood is as clear as day.
When "Tides" was released, it felt like a reaction to the plateauing and self-cannibalization of electronic music - in 2022 that mood is still relevant. And it still absolutely wrecks us.