In 2015 the Irish band M-Opus released their debut album 1975 Triptych (see review).The album was well received in the progressive rock scene. The track Different Skies was the opus magnum of the album. It clocked over 33 minutes of playing time. M-Opus is a band that is heavily influenced by the music of the seventies. But more on this later.
Five years later the band release their second album Origins. It is obvious that they had inspiration enough, because this album saw the light as a double album. In the meantime the band is reduced to a trio. The current line-up is: Jonathan Casey (vocals, voice actor, keyboards, bass, guitar), Colin Sullivan (guitar, narration) and Mark Grist (drums, vocals).
The band announced a couple of years ago that the following album would go back to the music of the year 1978. This was the year that Yes released Tomato, UK released their debut album, Toto released their debut album, Saga released their debut album, Rush released Hemispheres and Genesis released And Then There Were Three. I think that it's not a coincidence that M-Opus went back to 1978. And when you listen to the album this all becomes clear.
Origins is an album with a drawn-out story line which occurs in 2187. Humanity has colonized itself and technical science is really state of the art. They are even developing a teleportation machine. Main character is Miller. Miller and his colleague Violet are investigating the death of Jonah. Jonah died during an experiment.
The album contains 28 tracks. All tracks are connected by narrations. Voice actors tell a part of the story line and the track takes over and continues the story. This project is rather huge and therefor there are a lot of contributions by additional musicians. The following persons cooperate on this album: Anto Drennan (guitar), Charlie Kranz (voice actor), Conor McGouran (guitar), Danny Kehoe (voice actor), Danny McCormack (vocals). Eoghan McLaughlin (vocals, voice actor), Graeme Singleton (voice actor), Michael Buckley (flute), Ron Garner (voice actor), Sandi Jane Hyland (vocals), Sharon Mannion (voice actor), Stella Bass (vocals, voice actor), Tamara Markus (voice actor) and Tomoko Okamoto (voice actor).
The huge amount of voice actors says everything about the extremely detailed story. Whilst listening to the album I noticed that the extensive stories distract the attention and also creates huge gaps between the tracks. The intentions are great, but I think it doesn't work out so well.
Then the music...the music on the album is as expected. M-Opus has great musicians and great songwriters in their ranks.
One thing is sure, musically you can't discover one boring moment. As mentioned before, 1978 is the year on which the band referred. They actually mean the musical instruments of the year 1978. The sound of 1978 Yes is prominent present. The progressive rock of the seventies was inseparably connected with keyboards and synthesizers, such as Moog, Roland SR-JV80-08 and all kind of ARP's. But also the influence and ghosts of bands as Pink Floyd, King Crimson and David Bowie can clearly be heard. Besides this there is also room for psychedelic intermezzos. Despite all these influences M-Opus has managed to write consistent songs. All the different influences are dosed in an orderly way. The music is always spot on and never a kind of a mess.
Origins has also an opus magnum. It's the final track of the album and it's called Infinite Within. The track has a duration of almost 24 minutes and contains different soundscapes. It lingers on between psychedelic rock, progressive rock classic rock and tranquil piano- and guitar passages.
At the end of this review I'd like to mention one track of the album that deserves some special attention. 2048 Numbers is the last track of the first CD. The guitar parts at the beginning of this song are absolute beautiful. You can hear that it's played with intense feeling. A feeling that Steve Rothery of Marillion also has.
The conclusion with regards to this album is that M-Opus succeeded in writing a worthy successor to their debut album. Origins contains some really excellent tracks, tracks which are high above the average of today's progressive rock. The concept of the album is rather original and the storyline is good. But the storyline is also some kind of pitfall. In my opinion the narrations are extensive and in some way dominant. The gaps between the tracks are rather big. I found it difficult to concentrate myself during these two hours of music and stories. But as I said, this is personal. Nevertheless it's an excellent album, which a therefor rate with four points.
**** Aad Bannink (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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