Opsvik & Jennings – Commuter Anthems (Rune Grammofon)


Commuter Anthems is cloven with effulgent elements pursued through minute variations, fashioning a detailed diorama such that listening to the work suggests the experience of actually being in the environment, of listening to it breathe, lay still and shift around. ‘Wrong Place Wrong Time’ uses some nuanced panning and delaying techniques to erect foreboding, airy and intriguing images of the sky at dusk. Later on, some quietly abrasive electronics tint the music with an unobtrusive delicacy while simultaneously heightening the atmosphere of aged resignation.

More predominant, though, is the works loveably guileless arrangement and aura. Many pieces sprout into more quizzical terrain, while others abound with a rural, lazy feel which is quite transfixing. The title track, for one, is pulled along by what sounds like a pizzicato harp, shaded by the yawning and wailing of a trumpet and some slurry vocals. The piece is becoming in its purity and simplicity, yet its the post-production that affords it that extra dimension, that extra contour which really allures for its focus and confidence. It works much the same on ‘Lorinda Sea’, whose lopsided drum pulse and spidery guitar figures and linear horn patterns no doubt appeal, but whose being cut up, dropped out and rearranged in an adventurous, almost giddy manner affords it a sublime otherness.

All of this reshuffling thereby compliments and accents the persuasive playing of the duo. Rather than merely waxing pastoral, a piece such as ‘Silverlake’ vibrates with glimmering detail and impassioned invention. The final few compositions even offer slightly atonal counterparts, where taut syncopated rhythms unfurl against a banjon-drum-theremin crunch. Asides from swimming through a summer evening with delicate ease, stylistically and technically, Commuter Anthems is a wholehearted success.

Max Schaefer


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