Touching on so many of the bearded layabout's tropes of the past several years—from Balearic to kosmische, minimalism to New Age of Earth-style spacewalking—The Soft Wave sits comfortably amongst 2010 artists like Emeralds, Oneohtrix Point Never and Mark McGuire that are renegotiating mid-'70s Krautrock. But of all those mentioned, Arp's seems like the album so classically rendered and refined you might trick friends into believing it emerged in the same era as records like Sowiesoso or Michael Rother's Sterntaler.
Well-timed for seasonal transitions, The Soft Wave finds Arp augmenting the analogue textures and drifting kosmische of his debut with a larger instrumental palette suited to summer's withdrawal. Georgopoulos fills out In Light's soft pastoral recline with guitars, flute and piano and, importantly, slight textural contrasts and noisier passages that help it elude empty New Age signifiers. "Silver Clouds," for example, closes the album with a gust of noisy helicopter squall that provides relief from a lull that can sometimes be almost too pleasant. In fact, much of the surface beauty of Arp's compositions here is tempered by fuzzy drones, quick shadows that pass across the glow. But Georgopoulos' drowsy lilt persuades you to push all your tasks back an hour; the man's mastered the daydrift. "Pastoral Symphony" opens the record with bright, calming tones right out of Autobahn, offset slightly by buzzing feedback and glowing synth tones. "White Light" is fuzzier and more disoriented, with its clean guitar sanded down by more feedback drone before a flute assumes the track's swaying melody.
Elsewhere, with its quiet piano and hazy analogue whirl, "Catch Wave" is morning-after bliss, and "High Life" is a kind of aerial waltz that's just as soothing. Both "Grapefruit" and "Summer Girl" are so faint they almost seem to disintegrate as they unfold, intersecting synth washes with sleepy guitar lines and more dissonance. But it's on "From a Balcony Overlooking the Sea" where Arp really throws a curve. Resembling the work of Brian Eno, Robert Wyatt or even the Pink Floyd of Meddle, "Balcony"'s art-pop balladry floats along a central piano melody, Georgopoulos' best country gent impression and a dim drum machine click. Receding with a nod to the record's title—the sound of water brushing the shore—it's an evocative and surprising moment on a record that should stir nostalgia and fond memories of longer days as the summer wears away.