I’m not a great flyer – put me on an airplane long enough and watch the claustrophobic madness seep in. There’s just something about being so high up in the air and realizing how heavy the vehicle is that I’m flying in that sends terrible shivers through my body. It’s unnatural, and I don’t like it. The weird thing is, I love to travel, and I’m not an absolute catastrophe when I’m in the air, but the lingering dread is still there, just below the surface, pulsing noxiously like a bruise in the pit of my stomach.
I mention this because Opaline, aka Hunter Peter Thompson of Portland, Oregon, saved my life. He did this once, with Memory Drain, his early 2015 album on Constellation Tatsu. I’d loaded up my iPhone with a couple likeminded artists, but after a few false starts (I forget why), I settled on Opaline. Immediately, it was like a door to my consciousness opened, and I was no longer strictly strapped to my seat, sitting between two (admittedly nice) people I didn’t know. I was somewhere else – somewhere safe and comforting, and I closed my eyes and let the synthesizer washes envelope me. It was the shortest flight from Jacksonville to La Guardia I ever experienced.
Open Source picks up right where Memory Drain left off, and indeed, right where lots of other Opaline releases leave off: in a haze of synthesizers, pulsing and shifting ever so subtly, proudly smearing the boundaries of ambient synthesizer music, kraut, and New Age. “Returning” is a triumphant opener, welling and brimming and overflowing in major keys like M83’s cinematic output, filling the mind of the listener with beauty and wonder and opening third eyes upon heretofore unglimpsed astral planes. It’s a perfect companion for any situation where there’s uncertainty – “Returning” just makes you feel good about yourself, and confident enough in its headspace that you can turn off your conscious worrying mind. You know, like on an airplane.
As with much of Opaline’s output, the rest of the album can easily be summed up as grand synthesizer pastiches that exist to further your imagination. I’m particularly enamored with the nine-minute “Tracing,” as I’m ready for that kind of celestial ride any day of the week, and the shimmering closer “Leaving,” a glowing pastoral tribute to endings and beginnings. Each track takes a different path to discovery, and as a whole, much like the album suggests in its title, it’s open for anyone to experience and interpret, and to unlock and apply to their own personal journey. If I sound like some New Age guru, sue me – this Opaline stuff gets under my skin, and it’s perfect to listen to no matter the occasion. And to all potential listeners out there – Opaline is the best thing you can listen to on an airplane. Accept no substitutes.
RIYL: Pulse Emitter, Portopia ’81, X.Y.R., Disasterpeace