Almost 4 years have passed since i last heard from Ova Looven, who were once Antarctica. Apparently, my review of the last Ova Looven release, 58:34 was noticed by their camp, since i received a nice promo 12" of this EP in the mail, gratis.
First off, let me say that this is a beautiful product. The vinyl is thick, translucent purple, truly lovely as it spins on the turntable. The sleeve is more of an envelope made out of thick black paper with the strange cover art in shiny purple. The sleeve is numbered, and i was given No. 179 for review purposes. And, to top it all off, the speed is clearly marked on each side (A is 33, B is 45). Finally people are listening to me!
Now, on to my only negative, there are no liner notes of any kind. Fortunately i received a one-sheet of press information, but casual listeners will be left wondering for themselves who made this music. One thing i learned from the press sheet is that Ova Looven is mostly the project of one individual, Chris Donohue. He is assisted by his sole bandmate, Steve Depalo, as well as a few other friends who help out a little bit. I am guessing that Donohue is the mopey, quiet voice i have enjoyed on 2 Antarctica releases, as well as on the
last Ova Looven disc. I am not sure what Depalo adds...
But it's not really important i guess. This music speaks for itself. Ova
Looven feature chiming guitars in layers over strange beats, and somewhere
in the mix is the soft voice, chanting lyrics that are only half-heard. The
overall effect owes a lot to the early post-punk scene. In fact, lead off track The
Killer Six sounds a lot like they located some lost 80s tune with slippery
base, half-heard lyrics, and heavily chorused guitars, and then they added
a modern series of beats (skittering, clattering sounds, instead of the thump
of the old 808) on top. Fascinating.
In the last Ova Looven review i noted that the band was progressing towards a sound more reminiscent of Underworld than the New
Order of their roots. Well, this progression continues here to nice effect. In fact, the second tune on this EP, Ocean Glaze sounds remarkably what Underworld are up to these days. No, really. The song is dominated by strange beats that float in and out, that dance with themselves while Donohue's voice and the guitars sort of weave a haze of sound around them. This could actually be a dance hit -- i can see the kids at Trashed dancing to this. I wonder if NYC Dance Clubs play this stuff?
There are four songs here, and all of them are worthwhile. Of particular interest is a tune called, The Last Song,which is Ova Looven covering the old French act Trisomie 21. I am unfamiliar with the original, but am guessing that they are more of a keyboard act than Ova Looven normally are, because keyboard sounds play a larger part than guitar here. It moves along at a nice pace.
But all four tracks are worthwhile and interesting. I like what these people are up to. I like their blend of strange beats and 80s effected guitar. Lots of people are doing this stuff these days (Lali
Puna and Ulrich Schnauss to name two off of the top of my head), and i think that this EP is up there with the best work in this genre of electro-post-shoegaze.
Now, supposedly Ova Looven will have a remix album and a new record out in the fall. Hearing this taste of where the band is at now, i am very curious.