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Japanese experimental instrumental rock band Rovo were formed in 1996 around the central creative duo of guitarist Yamamoto Seiichi, formerly of the Boredoms, and violinist Katsui Yuji, who via his background in numerous bands was also well acquainted with the Japanese underground music scene. Completing the lineup are drummers Yoshigaki Yasuhiro and Okabe Yoichi, bassist Jin Harada, and keyboard player Masuko Tatsuki. The initial impetus of the band came from Katsui's desire to incorporate some of the atmosphere of rave music into Japanese underground rock, and as a result, much of Rovo's music is built around psychedelic, dance music-influenced grooves, albeit with frequent diversions into jazz, funk, Afro-beat, dub, Latin music, progressive rock, and Krautrock. Neu! is a frequent point of comparison thanks to both bands' propensity for minimalist grooves and repetitive, propulsive drums and percussion. Over the course of the band's numerous original albums and live releases, Rovo have developed an instantly recognizable sound, thanks largely to Katsui's distinctive electric violin sound and the competing rhythmical textures of the two drummers/percussionists.
Rovo's debut album, Pico!, was released in 1998 through Sony Music, as was the following year's Imago, which also garnered a U.S. release in 2001. 2000's Pyramid saw the band develop its drone and repetition-driven dance rock concept to even further extremes, with the album listing only a single track. On occasion Rovo have worked with more mainstream acts, with the group remixing the track "66db" by ex-Judy & Mary singer Yuki, and the song "Fairway" for indie dance band Supercar (on whose final album, Answer, Katsui would later play as a guest musician). In 2001 they covered "Catch and Release" for a Manuel Gottsching tribute album; in 2003, they recorded a track for a compilation album based on musical conceptualizations of the manga and anime character Tetsuwan Atom ("Astro Boy"); then in 2004, they recorded a cover of the Pop Group's "We Are Time" for the compilation album Fine Times: A Tribute to New Wave. Throughout their career, Rovo have maintained a steady output of albums and toured regularly despite each member having commitments to various other bands. In 2006, the group set up a new label, ROVO Organization, through which they released the albums Condor and 2008's Nuou.
In 2010, they released Ravo on Wonderground, and followed it a year later with Rovo Dub. After undertaking European and Japanese tours, the band went back into the studio to cut Phase, which was released the following year.
During that tour, a relationship was established with System 7 based on mutual admiration. It led to a pair of recording projects, the first, Phoenix Rising, was billed to Rovo System 7 and released in 2013 and followed by the Hinotori EP consisting of remixes and new tracks. ~ Ian Martin
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