Opsvik & Jennings: A Dream I Used To Remember (2009)
The inventive duo of Opsvik and Jennings continue to adhere to the adage of "have imagination, will travel." Like architects in sound, melody, and composition, multi-instrumentalists Eivind Opsvik from Oslo, Norway and Aaron Jennings, from Tulsa Oklahoma, artfully blend technology (electronics, software) and acoustic instruments (including bass, drums, banjo, guitar) to create unique constructs that are ambient, melodic, and filled with personality.
A clue is disclosed within the duo's interests, which range from German composer Richard Strauss to The Byrds and 1940s Disney cartoons. This childlike fascination, coupled with a deep sense of wonder and experimentation is the cog in the artists' workings. The appropriately named title depicts the entire album, with douses of surrealism, pastoral backdrops, quirky lyricism, and expertly crafted composition.
While the music is an extension of its predecessors Commuter Anthems (Rune Grammofon, 2007) and Floyel Files (NCM East, 2005), its also an evolution of their sound with a broader palette of live instruments and even a choir on some tracks.
"Canada" and "Anchor Lane Parade" are supernal yet quaint; the earthy sounds of piano, pump organ, horns arrangements, pleasant rhythms, and the processed sounds of bells, whistles and clanking noises that are signatures of the duo's electronic touches. Jennings' insistent banjo riff carries the hypnotic groove in "Windswept," as Opsvik's bowed bass string also sings; a countrified vibe that is altogether hip.
But true to form, this release is not easily categorized as "Sleepy Rush" will attest with its inclusion of celestial voices by the Nova Chamber Choir, Opsvik's sinewy acoustic bass, powered drums and various sounds guiding towards an unusual but satisfying path. The sets ends gloriously with the emotive "Sunroad," a simple repeating design where the duo improvises with multiple sounds. It is affecting and demonstrative of the duo's creativity. Proving that in the end, it is not about the technology or an instrument, but what and how the musician creates with it.
Track Listing: A Dream I Used To Remember; Canada; Swimming Back into the Picture; Anchor Lane Parade; Windswept; Steam and Bells; Sleepy Rush; The Good Eye; September and Starry-eyed; Sunroad.
Personnel: Eivind Opsvik: upright bass, electric bass, drums, percussion, lap steel guitar, piano, pump organ, keyboards, glass, vocals, software; Aaron Jennings: electric guitars, acoustic guitars, banjo, vocals, electronics, software; Peter Opsvik: flute (3), vocals (9); Rich Johnson: trumpet (4, 6, 9), vocals (9); Rob Jost: French horn (4, 6, 9) vocals (9); Brian Drye: trombone (4, 6, 9), vocals (9); R.J. Miller: drums (4, 9); Michelle Arcila: voice (4); Nova Chamber Choir members: Mathilde F. Blichfeldt, Lillian Fjell Hassel, Karianne Jaeger, Karoline Ormasen, Maria Sandve, Hege Kristin Ulvin: vocals (2, 3, 7, 9).