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Rovo - Imago CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.05 | 3 ratings

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3 stars Bedfellows with ulterior motifs end up doing the same

With a fiery percussion duo of two drummers, a bass man as bouncy and propulsive as your next door couple doing the vertical jig, Japanese psych rockers Rovo wield a form of psychedelic music that both pays homage to the sludgy side of the Krautrock spectrum as well as diving head first into the snaking jungle paths of modern day space rock. With the add on of violin and the apt guitar juices to accompany such cornucopian marmalade escapades, the bridging between old and new is always on the horizon with this band.

Imago though sees the band opting for a decisively more electronic sound - a feel of mixed martial arts with computer buffs, nun-chucks, somersaulting joyrides and the sonic kick flips that today have become part of the Japanese fingerprint. That last part of the equation is something felt in the, at times, tumultuous rhythmic interplay where both drummers go out of their way to enrage each other, throw each other a bone that's not really a bone but an alternate take on whatever 1-2-3 beat the music is forwarded by.

You wouldn't know all of this just by listening to the opening track 'N'dam'. At first I thought I'd read the label wrong - gotten my hands on the wrong album, because what I found in the place of that propulsive marmalade rock was a twitchy form of electronic music that lead my mind astray, and suddenly I started thinking about the glitchy part of Autechre's oevre. Zipping mosquito like and oddly enamouring all at once, the track edges it's way forth like small fragmented beams of sound and ends up in a beautiful and solemn built up with sparsely used hand drums - taking this listener straight out on an Indian sand dune by night.

Swoop and it's gone! Straight away I'm reminded of the Rovo I know and have come to adore, as the next tune 'Horses' neighs and gallops onto the scene and gives to you all the well-known characteristics of the band. Fiery, raw, propulsive with loads of hypnotic rhythmic powers, guitar sauces and that bass that threatens to rearrange your heart beat.

And there you have it! A succinct recipe for this outing: the constant swaying between futuresque zipping firefly electronics and brawling, almost sludgy rock forces. Sure, you're treated to individual tunes that manage to boil down these two strange bedfellows to a broth, but to this listener the outcome never really crystallises into magnificence............Now that I think of it, the two forms of sonic expression are actually not that strange of a pairing. The trouble I have with them on here is that they both seek the same in the material. The elusive and esoteric, the stuff that makes a haze of your mind and clouds your senses. Now I am all for that kind of stuff, yet on 'Imago' the final product seems to drift on by you like a run-of-the-mill circus cart with no genuine persona - no blue elephants nor dwarf penguins, and that's a shame, because it's all right there for the taking. I love both sides of this band and they do it oh so well, yet here it feels undeveloped and unfocused. Like a really good jam that lacks the final spark, the jet fuel needed for the aeroplane to really take off.

I love that first track though. It's a guilty pleasure of mine to put on when I need something bilingual yet without any vocals. And it's not like the rest of the album is bad, because it isn't. It is rather good actually. Perfect for the in-house spring cleaning, for standing on ladders overlooking the street through murky windows or for your day to day daydreaming and all such everyday activities that sneaks on by you without notifying your brain. For that it is perfect. Just don't expect the ol' cabeza to partake...

Guldbamsen | 3/5 |


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