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Heart Fever EP
There is that trademark abstract output we’ve come to expect from Ovall
It’s hard to gauge what effects Ovall’s successes have had. I mean, something breaking in Japan is not as inaccessible to a European as, say, the latest sensation in Papua New Guinea. Discernible is that things have gone well—gigs at the “biggest festival in Japan”, their own cardboard stand at Tokyo’s Tower Records and record sales in Francegive it away. But what we ought to do, and what we have noice choice but to do in this case, is to judge it by the music.
The trio’s first album as Ovall, We Don’t Care Who Knows That from last year, treaded between abstract experimentation and more commerical jazz and soul songs. And that’s basically what we find on Heart Fever, in a slightly more extreme format.
‘Feverish Imagination’ is rampantly commerical, fusing a characteristic hip-hop thump—after all, this is Mabanua, Japan’s own Soulquarian, on the drums—with chart melodies and, somewhere amongst it all, a Prince-like funkiness. But alongside that track, and ‘Beautiful Love’, which has loungy tendencies (and I mean it in a bad way), there is that trademark abstract output: ‘Water Dream’ is sampled-instrumentation mastery, making use of muffled handclaps and floating sea organs. And ‘Moon Beams’, complete with a reprise and all, is a mellow groove dictated by a jazz piano and signature rhodes.
It’s like Shingo Suzuki, the band leader, knew that with one serious radio flirt on there, Ovall could get away with turning in the instrumental, jam-oriented music that makes up the rest of the EP. And they succeeded—but they’re not getting those screechy guitar solos past me.