Hungarian/Swedish producer OPOLOPO is perhaps best known for his sympathetic and touching yet undeniably dance-able rerub of Gregory Porter’s heart-wrenching soul anthem “1960 What?” — a truly challenging balance to achieve given the song’s subject matter. This year he’s issued 3 EPs on Local Talk titled “Sickla,” which have now been cleverly reformed and re-presented as a full-length LP with some extra cuts thrown in for good measure.
The album format is so often problematic in house and dance genres, let alone one stitched together from three separate releases, so the first surprising thing about this record is how wonderfully sequenced and poised it is when enjoyed as a single piece of art. I’d be shocked if this track-listing isn’t the one OPOLOPO had in his mind all along.
From the scratchy, fluttering, slightly tongue-in-cheek sounding opening chords, OPOLOPO’s unique sense of musical aesthetic is evident throughout “Sickla.” “Head Hunters”-era Herbie-Hancock-esque synths rub shoulders with angular Latin piano lines over warm basslines and shuffling drum patterns. Prodigious jazz-chops and real musicianship are on display here, without ever resorting to masturbatory showing-off. The record is smart, but approachable, like that cool younger schoolteacher who sparked your lifelong interest in science or French or whatever, and who you still think about sometimes to this day…
Highlights (at least for me) are the smooth and soulful feel of “You Can Make It” which features a goose-bump inducing vocal from Pete Simpson, the deep grooves of “Chimera On A Leash” and the borderline-euphoric chord progression of “Chocolate Liquorice.”
While clubs and even bars may still be a long way off for most of us, “proper music” with structure and depth that bears home-listening is more relevant than ever, and this record provides a fantastic listening experience from start to finish, wherever you find yourself (including, hopefully, sometime soon, a dancefloor).
OPOLOPO: Sickla LP (Local Talk / 12″ Vinyl/Digital / October 2020)
1. OPOLOPO: Loose Limbs (06:03)
2. OPOLOPO: Chocolate Liquorice (06:35)
3. OPOLOPO: Opolopo feat. Pete Simpson – You Can Make It (06:42)
4. OPOLOPO: Moonwalk (08:25)
5. OPOLOPO: Chimera On A Leash (06:02)
6. OPOLOPO: Triplet Limb (04:34)
7. OPOLOPO: The Sluggard (05:42)
8. OPOLOPO: Crab Sticks (06:28)
9. OPOLOPO: Silkworms (05:08)
10. OPOLOPO: Magnetopause (05:40)
11. OPOLOPO: Sickla Quay Coasting (07:36)