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Iovae - Civilization

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Artist: Iovae

Album: Civilization

Label: SNSE

Review date: Nov. 8, 2005

Ron Orovitz has been a long-standing contributor to Cincinnati’s more warped musical activities through both his involvement with the Art Damage radio program and his musical work in various groups and as a solo artist. As Iovae, Orovitz manipulates a collection of oscillators he endearingly terms “the grinder,” manufacturing a wide array of aural treats. Orovitz knows just how to massage the knobs to bring out the many voices that “the grinder” can produce. Iovae operates in a rather low-key manner, and despite the respect of his peers and a slew of lauded small-run releases, Orovitz’s remains a rather overlooked personality. Civilization is Iovae’s first professionally pressed disc this side of the Atlantic, so, to many listeners, the disc will likely serve as an introduction to Orovitz’s music.

Musically, Civilization is a lot simpler than its crowded cover art. Orovitz operates in a rather streamlined fashion here, choosing not to jam too many ideas into a single moment, and allowing for growth and expansion via repetition and permutation. “Formi” constructs a stereo mobius strip, with matching ribbons of sound overlapping in the middle, a continuous stream between the left and right channels. He does something similar with “Enlightenment” before “History of the Deafening” explodes into a gritty burst of noise that slowly erodes, leaving a pock-marked foreground that slowly gives way to dark undulations and cloudy atmospheres. Orovitz puts his favorite toy through the gauntlet on “Grinder Explodes,” tapping into the oscillators’ numerous capabilities in a succession of abstract, almost demonstrational pieces. “Ode to Schadenfreude” reworks “Ode to Joy,” from the initial rather subtle manipulations into a dizzying array of swaying sounds.

Orovitz’s diverse collection of constructions can sometimes seem too naked for its own good, but there’s a resolute focus and confidence in Civilization’s uncomplicated approach. The sounds are at the forefront, unornamented and unembellished, presented without great fanfare. Those who favor a more hyperactive approach may find this disc too slow to develop, and while it’s not a straightforwardly minimalist release, Civilization does take a degree of patience on the part of the listener. The album’s best moments are not its most obvious, rather they’re the sounds in the creases, and the feelings created by the seasick saunter of the music. For those who can listen not just to, but around the sounds, Iovae’s simpler approach is more bountiful than one might first expect.

By Adam Strohm

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