Crate-Digging: Opal Onyx – Delta Sands

opal onyx

(Tin Angel, 2014)

Abbas Kiarostami—one of the world’s greatest living filmmakers, the man behind such masterworks as Certified Copy and Taste of Cherryonce had this to say about his cinematic views: “I believe in a type of cinema that gives greater possibilities and time to its audience. A half-created cinema, an unfinished cinema that attains completion through the creative spirit of the audience, so resulting in hundreds of films. It belongs to the members of the audience and corresponds to their own world.”

If you take these words and apply them to music, or to any other medium, it still has essentially the same meaning. A beautiful idea; a piece of art that’s a cooperative effort between the creator and the audience, and not in some hokey “audience participation” improv comedy way. Of course, Kiarostami isn’t the first to espouse this philosophy, and he certainly isn’t the last, as showcased in a great album I’ve been listening to all week, Delta Sands by Opal Onyx.

“The songs are ambiguous, conceptually,” read the notes on the album, and it’s true. The ideas behind the words are hidden things, if they exist at all; and the music itself is a siren’s song, inviting and beautiful, but something within it remains distant and forbidding. Singer Sarah Nowicki’s voice is light, dreamy and demure, but it’s not a weak voice, like you often hear in other dream pop (yep, I’m calling this album “dream pop”; get used to it). The background instrumentals are dark, often harsh and industrial, creating a wonderful contrast. The overall sound makes me think of David Lynch, in more than one way.

Highlights of the album for me were “Black & Crimson,” the really great opening track; “Personal,” which has a very good instrumental part in addition to the already beautiful vocals; and “Fruit of Her Loins,” probably my favorite track on the album, with a beautifully ominous build-up and more great instrumentals. The title track is also quite good, and works as a very effective album closer, with Nowicki’s voice (which is both rich and lovely) fading out in a layered chorus. The songs all present some sense of vague familiarity; some beautiful vision obscured by fog. Of course, how can we know something is beautiful if it’s shrouded in mist? We use our imaginations to complete the picture, that’s how.

Think of your imagination as three scoops of delicious Ovaltine, lying at the bottom of the giant glass of milk that is your mind, just waiting to be stirred in; to imbue that plain white milk with richness and color; to turn it into something worth drinking (ok, maybe I took this metaphor a little too far, no one is going to drink your mind, unless aliens invade or something). [Ed. note: Gross…] Then, a spoon comes along, in the shape of some piece of art. Van Gogh’s Starry Night… The Scream painting… Resnais’ Last Year at MarienbadEraserhead… Opal Onyx’s Delta Sands? Something to stir up the imagination, and let it seep into every corner of your thoughts; a half-created idea that your mind has to—or gets to—complete in its own way. That’s the long-standing tradition of art in which Opal Onyx has made their own entry with Delta Sands.

One thing I wanted to mention before I close: I absolutely LOVE the cover art. I don’t know who did the work, but it’s gorgeous and it really fits the tone of the album. Mm-mm-mm, I love a good album cover.

So anyway, yeah, Delta Sands by Opal Onyx. Strong recommendation; buy it and listen well. Do it for your mind as much as your ears. Or both. Do both.

RIYL: Julee Cruise, David Lynch, DAMA / LIBRA


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