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Opsvik & Jennings - Commuter Anthems

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Artist: Opsvik & Jennings

Album: Commuter Anthems

Label: Rune Grammofon

Review date: May. 30, 2007

Good instrumental music communicates a vivid narrative by leaving the poetic details to the listener’s own conjuring. Too many modern instrumentalists weigh down their releases with mathematic complexities and the kind of Rick Wakeman-wannabe time signatures that make it seem like they’re trying to disguise that they don’t have a singer, instead of capitalizing on the freedom afforded by ditching one’s frontman. My judgment and predisposition have taught me that if you can deliver an amazing pop song with no lyrics, it’s quite likely that you’re Pell Mell. And if you can write sad and heartbreaking instrumental epics and have a violin player, you’re the Dirty Three. The second album by Opsvik & Jennings is neither of those things, but it is one of the more pleasing excursions into the realm of instrumental music that I’ve encountered in some time.

The two New York musicians (by way of Oslo, Norway and Tulsa, OK) offer an impressive array of sophisticated but thoroughly approachable tracks that ultimately gather into a meaningful listen for fans of experimental glitch pop, warm electronics, and avant jazz manifestations. Although the title track, artwork, and limited notes don’t readily illuminate the impetus behind the commuter theme, the overall feel of the album could definitely translate to a computer model of what some futuristic and well-ordered traffic pattern might look like were it gazed upon from the heavens. Musical elements that don’t necessarily have a proven history together – like, say, pedal steel and “software” – can be found here changing lanes and merging with one another while demonstrating equal parts style and efficiency. Nothing sticks out too prominently, but all of the pieces are definitely there for a reason, and make themselves understood with satisfying intent.

By Mike Lupica

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