Starting a solo project, especially for an artist who usually collaborates, is often about control. The solo artist charts whatever course he or she pleases when freed from the need for consensus, shaping the work to fit his or her exact specifications. Putting aside his longstanding role as half of Âme, Frank Wiedemann’s solo project — or at least its first release — takes on an unexpected form. Rather than house, jazz, classical, techno, ambient, or some amalgam of all the sounds Âme has tackled since 2002, “Howling” is a largely acoustic ballad performed with vocalist/guitarist Ry Cuming. Although already distinct from Wiedemann’s past, it’s remarkable how faint his sonic fingerprints are on this single.
It hardly seems Wiedemann is in the studio when Cuming begins plucking his guitar, singing of a love so intense it had him howling with delight. His light, lilting voice and gently ascending notes are backed only by a metronomic click and later a 4/4 kick. And while syncopated hi-hats hint Wiedemann’s manned the drum machines, it’s the swelling synth solo riding high above earthly elements that finally affirms his presence. It’s tricky making something this memorable yet understated, and Âme fans might find it somewhat lightweight. Keeping die-hards in mind, Wiedemann reunites with Kristian Beyer for an Âme remix that fills in the spaces of “Howling” with warm synths largely mirroring the original’s movements. It’s still sleek if more nuanced and toned, something akin to Gui Boratto’s Chromophobia period without the bombast. “Watched You Run,” a Cuming-sung piano ballad, rounds out the single with Wiedemann’s synths humming, growling, and hissing below. Their purely elemental shape suggests a groaning, tormented soul, adding depth to an otherwise plain tune that will still struggle for airtime next to the superior “Howling.” It’s part and parcel of a rare solo debut that finds the protagonist backing further and further out of sight.