Ritual was always going to be an incredibly hard act to follow for Jape. The victor of the 2008 Choice Music Prize for Album of the Year, it garnered widespread acclaim from critics, fans and fellow musicians alike – undeniably a landmark Irish album. But if anyone’s up to the challenge of beating their best, it’s Richie Egan – and so, three years on, here we have Ocean Of Frequency. Egan has admitted to feeling dissatisfied with the finished product upon completion of recording the record. He walked away from it, taking time to focus on his other current musical projects VisionAir and The Redneck Manifesto, before returning to the work and completely re-jigging is, scrapping songs and writing and recording replacements which better hit the mark of what he was aiming for. A bold (and expensive) manoeuvre, no doubt – but also a commendable one which shows Egan’s drive and dedication towards being the best musician he can possibly be.
It shows. Ocean Of Frequency is a stellar album – and with cited influences ranging from Brian Eno to Caribou, it certainly makes for a diverse listen. ‘You Make The Love’ is a perfect choice of lead single – all pulsing beats and blips, with a hook-laden melody which will delight long-time fans and draw attention from potential new ones. The infectiously catchy ‘Please Don’t Turn The Record Off’ could well have been a chart-topping ’80s smash in a previous life, and the thrilling bassline which weaves its way throughout ‘Scorpio’ makes it an absolute delight. The darker side of Egan’s musical prowess comes to the fore on ‘Borrowed Time With Peace’ – a hypnotically haunting song, a stirring melody and impassioned vocal delivery against militant drum beats making it one of the standout tracks. And just as you think you have Ocean Of Frequency figured out, the slick production throughout is stripped back to reveal ‘Its Shadow Won’t Make Noise’ – simple acoustic guitar serving as the backdrop to perfect harmonies, reminiscent of the subdued brilliance of Ritual’s ‘Phil Lynott’ and ‘At The Heart Of All This Strangeness’.
Egan was right to take his time with this – and should be very proud of the end result. It’s an album which remains loyal to Jape’s core values, striking the perfect balance by firmly holding on tightly to the old, but embracing the new with evident conviction.