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OPIUO’s genre-hopping ‘SYZYGY 02’ EP series is grounded, decisive, and wildly experimental [Album Review]

New Zealand-born artist OPIUO, born Oscar Davey-Wright, has unveiled his highly anticipated, genre-hopping project, SYZYGY 02. As the follow up to his critically acclaimed SYZYGY 01 EP, OPIUO’s newest sonic endeavor is a continuation of that thematic staple, or what he refers to as “a journey-filled, funkadelic party pie.” Together, the two short players stand as OPIUO’s most complete body of work to date.

The Kiwi native recently opened up to Live For Live Music about his creative process:

I get challenged by the pressure I put on myself, to improve. I hope SYZYGY 02 is the best I’ve done so far. Its music that I’ve made for the dance floor, it’s music that I’ve made just to groove to, and hang out over time.” – OPIUO

Featuring eight original tracks, all comprised of OPIUO’s signature and ever-evolving electro-glitch sound, SYZYGY 02 brings the listener on a journey from beginning to end (if there ever were such a thing). From electric chordal harmonies to gurgling, growling, and bending bass lines, the project proffers a world of endless possibility — equally playful, intoxicating, and a bit hallucinogenic.

Really it’s about the relationship between me and you, the music, the fans, and the shows.” – OPIUO

The project opens with “Kaleidoscope,” a synth-led track that was released as the EP’s first single and which epitomizes the funk-fueled OPIUO sound. The track was accompanied by the mind-bending visuals of artist Dr. D Foothead, who brings to the audio dimension a psychedelic explosion of colors and textures, spinning swirling shapes, and layers upon layers of vibrant lights.

Two other already-released tracks also feature on the project: The trailblazing collaboration with vocalist Texture Like Sun, “System Empire,” and a dance/hip-hop crossover track with West Coast rapper Lafa Taylor, “Send It.”

Riddled with five more quirky original tunes, the entire EP stands firm as an experimentally savvy statement that dips into a number of different stylistic flavors and genres. At the same time, SYZYGY 02 is grounded, decisive, and wildly original. Take the project’s fourth track, “Buff Marvel,” an inventive collaboration with Krafty Kuts. Marred with spacey synths, deep vocal chops, atmospheric textures, and funky breakdowns, the track blasts listeners high into outer space while also keeping them grounded to earth.

Coupled with the aptly-titled “AWOL,” a highly-experimental break beat number that has elements of mid-tempo bass, the two mark a turning point in the project about midway through. The pair of tracks also offer Syzygy 02 its climactic point, making the project feel like one longer listening piece than eight different stages of song play.

“Syzygy,” in astronomical terms, refers to the alignment of three or more celestial bodies in a given gravitational system. The most striking syzygy seen from earth is, of course, the total solar eclipse, when the moon passes between the earth and the sun with exact precision, creating total darkness on earth for a few minutes. At the end of the SYZYGY listening journey, that’s exactly what OPIUO’s two-part series exemplifies. That isn’t to suggest that a third part could not potentially arrive in the series. Music, like life and death, has no beginning and end points, only the ones we assign meaning to. And that is exactly what syzygy stands to mean.

After over a decade spent defying convention, OPIUO has developed a reputation for experimentation. The Kiwi glitch maestro has become known for playing with new sounds, marrying bass, glitch, funk, and electro-psychedelia, just as much as he is known for being the founder of a new signature sound. It is precisely because of the fruits of his labor and his wildly inventive mind that OPIUO is leading the pack.

OPIUO is currently on tour across North America with Gramatik, offering a brand new live show, full of never before heard renditions of the new project. Find all tickets for the tour here and stream SYGYZY 02 on all digital service providers now.

Tour Dates
November 8 – Mission Ballroom – Denver, CO**
November 9 – Knitting Factory – Spokane, WA *
November 14 – Skyway Theatre – Minneapolis, MN *
November 15 – Majestic Theatre – Madison, WI *
November 16 – The Riviera Theatre – Chicago, IL *
November 17 – The Intersection – Grand Rapids, MI *
November 20 – Stage AE – Pittsburgh, PA *
November 21 – House of Blues – Boston, MA *
November 22 – The Fillmore – Philadelphia, PA *
November 23 – Avant Gardner – Brooklyn, NY *

*in support of Gramatik
**Headline show

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Written by Ryan Morse

Information seeker. Dog lover. Ph.D. drop out. I'm probably at Bassnectar.
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