Opolopo - Voltage Controlled Feelings
Sometimes a record is just so damn enjoyable from start to end that nothing else matters. I’ll delve into more details as to the construction of the album and where it fits in and all that good stuff, but first I just want to tell you that it was a straight-up pleasure to listen to this album. What was my first reaction to this record? “This is fun!” What do I think now that I’ve had a chance to listen to it several times and really digest it? “Damn it if this record isn’t fun to listen to!”
Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let’s discuss what this album sounds like. Opolopo is a Swedish musician, who has taken his name from the Yoruban word for “plenty.” He was born the son of a touring keyboard player, and started experimenting with making his own music at a young age. On his third full-length solo album, we can definitely see what era had the greatest impact on him. This album bursts with the electro-boogie of the early eighties and late seventies. It’s very clear that Opolopo has listened to people like Zapp & Roger, Herbie Hancock, and Kraftwerk. But the music doesn’t sound dated. This is mostly due to the clear enthusiasm that comes through on the album. Plus, there are grooves in his funk that just can’t be denied. It’s hard to sit still while listening to this.
There are a few tracks featuring vocals, such as “Our World,” with L.A.-based Erik Rico, but the vocals have a way of just blending into the soundscape and never feel overpowering or out of place. Rhythm is at the forefront of the music, with song structure evolving and all of the various textures and melodic flourishes falling into place.
While I focus mainly on the rhythm of this record, Opolopo is an excellent keyboard player. This comes through a few times in the course of the album, and solos pop up here and there. It’s rarely self-indulgent, though, with the possible exception of the last song on the album, “Ballad for Amalia.” The first time I listened to it, I was a little disappointed that what was mostly a great dance record ended on such a long slow note. After repeated listens, though, I have to say the song had grown on me. It does take a little bit of patience after an album full of heavy electro-grooves, but I don’t mind it.
If you are already a fan of this electro-boogie, or whatever you want to call this intersection of electronic, disco, funk, R&B, and hip hop, there’s a chance you already know about Opolopo and it won’t take much convincing to give this record a shot. If you’re fairly new to it, or are rediscovering it thanks to someone like Dam-Funk, I think this record will be a great next step for you.