Jens Carelius is a Norwegian-born individual who makes the term artist seem almost bland in comparison to what he does. Whilst working as a musician, composer, painter and graphic designer in Oslo he also found the time to release two solo albums before creating a four-piece rock band and releasing a further two, all to immense critical acclaim. This year however, he has returned to his roots to produce his latest solo masterpiece, the breath-taking conceptual album Opsi.
Opsi is an album that has been dedicated to the life experienced by Carelius’s great-great-grandfather; an entomologist who spent his time collecting a vast number of wildlife samples in the inhospitable conditions of Siberia. Carelius seems to harness a deep fascination for the fact that only a couple of generations apart, the gap between the worlds in which they each lived are so astonishingly different. The concept of the album alone is more than intriguing but as Carelius begins to surround us with his effervescent melodies you start to become aware of the delicate balance that he as constructed for us to listen to and the journey that it takes us on. The natural and meanable manner in which Opsi plays out makes it feel almost like a turbulent ecosystem with a constant range of unpredictable notions and concepts. Like the weather, there is no telling what the next step or preparations might be.
Comprising of a variety of sparse and delicate melodies that seem to echo mist-covered moons hanging atop frozen woodlands right the way up to burning-hot rock melodies that hit like a brushfire, Opsi is a haven contemporary folk rock. Always happy to change and experiment, Carelius hits us like the changing of the seasons as he flips his own work on its head time and again. Each song seems to take you on another journey, be it long or short and transports you into a whole new atmosphere that allows Carelius to tell his tales and see life through his ancestors eyes. His rich and emotional vocals seem to melt like frost around you culminating in an innovative album that is uniquely atmospheric as it transports you through time and space to present to you a whole new viewpoint. Beguiling and haunting by turn, Carelius’s work has a sparse and almost macabre nature to it despite the grandiose elements that comprise it and it’s a collection so fascinating that you couldn’t leave if you wanted.
Driven by an immense and powerful orchestral sound, Opsi is an album that pushes boundary after boundary as it takes rock, folk, prog and so much more and melts them all together to form a beautiful and touching album that flickers like the edge of a super 8 film as the edges blur through your minds eye. It’s an in depth look at the indelible nature of the past alongside the malleable sense of the future.
Review by Joe Knipe