When an album achieves the widespread acclaim from music fans, the press, and just about everywhere else really that Ritual did, a band is oftentimes presented with two options when considering its follow-up. The first is to stick to the formula which conceived songs like 'I Was A Man', 'Phil Lynott' and 'Strike Me Down' and attempt to recreate what made them so appealing to so many people. The other is to cast aside any idea of a blueprint and start anew. For Jape's fourth album Ocean of Frequency this is exactly what Richie Egan and co. have done.
Egan has admitted that Ritual was "the work of a much more confident man" and, while that may indeed be true, Ocean of Frequency comes across as the work of a more assured musician. Throughout his musical career with the Redneck Manifesto, Jape and, lately, VisionAir, Richie Egan has never stayed static and is savvy enough to not stubbornly stick too closely to any idea until it runs out of gas. That's not to say that this album is too abrupt a departure from anything Jape have done in the past - the core elements remain - and the album contains the same melodic hooks and synthy instrumentation of its predecessor, but at the heart of this record is a warm and earthy sense of reflection. The arrangements throughout are interesting on the surface and but also reveal a depth upon close listening, such as the serene slow-build of 'The Oldest Mind' or the acoustic track 'Its Shadow Won't Make Noise'.
There's also plenty of room for foot-tapping tunes on Ocean of Frequency. The slinky groove of 'Scorpio' is about as instantly memorable as anything Jape have released up to this point and 'Please Don't Turn The Record Off', with its pulsing New Order-style bassline, feels like a vibrant 80's dancefloor filler. One of the best is saved for last, too, as the title-track 'Ocean of Frequency' leaves the album on one of its undoubted highpoints.
While Ocean of Frequency may feel like a departure from their previous material, it opens itself up to repeated listens and reveals that it has retained, and indeed enhanced, the qualities which have made Jape such an interesting band in the first place.