The combination of jazz, electronica, folk and post-rock structures might read as a standard description for much modern music, yet their marriage in the hands Opsvik & Jennings is anything but predictable. ?Commuter Anthems? is a beautiful record.
Eivind Opsvik hails from Oslo, Norway, and Aaron Jennings is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, however the pair has converged in New York. At moments sounding like a cross between The Books and Bohren & Der Club of Gore, and other times Victor Gama meets Four Tet, their largely instrumental music puts familiar pop devices and notable experimentations simultaneously into play without allowing either to dominate.
This is Opsvik & Jennings? second album, but their first for Rune Grammofon. It?s subtle and sunny production value is doggedly consistent, and houses an ongoing unveiling of succinct ideas. At times the mood may seem a little too constrained, but this lack of visceral energy is easily forgiven once the extent of ingenuity grows more apparent.
The range of instrumentation is significant. Double bass and banjo are central, while the appearance of concertina, lap steel, subliminal software and theremin deliver unforeseen arrangement possibilities. When Opsvik & Jennings contribute vocals, it?s done with humming and soft scats that simply dispense another instrument of diverging texture. So too the guest trombone from Ben Gerstein, flute from Peter Opsvik and trumpet by Rich Johnson.
The jazz that finds its way to the fore on songs such as ?I?ll Scrounge Along? is in a more Hard Bop tradition than Free, and thankfully any moments of potential Ninja Tune-style nu jazz and nu groove are rigorously scuttled.
A willingness to follow a narrative to wherever it might lead makes many of these songs tackle intricately winding paths, and it does credit to Opsvik & Jennings that they stay true to their ideas right to the end. ?Commuter Anthems? can thus be considered a genuine description of the music held within. 8/10 -- Sean Rabin (22 May, 2007)