Opsvik and Jennings, A Dream I Used to Remember

Opsvik and Jennings, A Dream I Used to Remember

Eivind Opsvik and Aaron Jennings continue to cover new ground on their third album, A Dream I Used to Remember. More straightforward than their previous projects, it mostly leaves behind the electronic tones and processing of their previous records for more of a traditional band sound. The result is a beatiful, slightly off-kilter take on folk music, reminiscent of Gastr del Sol or Jim O’Rourke’s Bad Timing album.

Their songs are mostly instrumental, with occasional high harmonies based around guitars, banjo, and upright bass and with other instruments added here and there. The first song, “A Dream I Used to Remember,” just keyboards and percussion, is woozy like an old movie soundtrack, and it sets the tone of the rest of the album. “Canada” features a melodic, Fahey-esque guitar line with drums that come in and out at just the right time to highlight the melody. “Swimming Back into the Picture,” has a beautiful wordless melody, and highlights an oddly square bass part below a classical-sounding marimba and keyboard part.

They also have a knack for picking unusual details that work really well in the whole, parts that are unusual melodically or harmonically, or that place accents in odd places, or occasionally odd combinations of instruments. It all adds a humorous quality to much of the music. The guitar part in “Canada” is slightly odd, with a bunch of wide intervals that you don’t hear most guitarists play, and has a few sudden shifts in key. The keyboard line is doubled with something that sounds like marimba in “Swimming Back into the Picture,” the two creating an unusual sound together, and the classical marimba/keyboard part above the goofy country-sounding bass line gives the song an amusing quality. On “Windswept,” during the break, the lap steel guitar plays this really cool dissonant guitar break.

The album is quite an achievement. You rarely hear people do things like this, taking traditional musical forms and instruments and making them into to something thoroughly contemporary. But Opsvik and Jennings don’t let it all get away from them, either — a lot of it has a lot of very pretty melodies. It may take a couple of spins before they’ve grabbed you, but isn’t the best stuff always the stuff that takes a little bit more listening? A Dream I Used to Remember returns your attention in spades.

(Loyal Label -- http://www.loyallabel.com/; Opsvik and Jennings -- http://www.eivindopsvik.com/)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Monday, June 14th, 2010. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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