by Claudio Sorge
issued on Rockerilla #82 (June 1987)
If today the dark side of L.A. is
represented, whether you like it or not, by bands like Electric Peace, or by the new upsetters
bound to the label SST (however you must select them carefully, in a sea of productions that
aren't always original and new as someone will make you believe), the sweetest and sinuous
side, expression of a vision of life again harmonious and reconciled to the reality of beautiful
things, remaining within the sphere of the creative recovery of neo-psychedelia, of course,
the brightest and positive side, I said, has the shining face of Opal.
Opal is a duet: David Roback, ex-guitarist of the Rain Parade and Kendra Smith, singer and bassist, formerly in the early Dream Syndicate (until the album
The Days Of Wine And Roses)
Happy Nightmare Baby is a masterpiece, there is no doubt about it. Nine pieces in all
for a final work of extraordinary evocative strength; dazzling, at intervals, in its beauty.
Magik Power irradiates skin with the hypnotic warmth of Rain Parade's
No Easy Way
Down, passing through Pink Floyd's doors of
A Saucerful Of Secrets. A striking
example of modern psychedelia, a powerful fresco of lisergic colours and steep perspectives
that shade into an infinite sky-blue
Relevation sees Kendra's faint and throbbing
voice pet our senses with velvet gloves, spurring soft emotions like flocks, while
Star chooses an approach slightly harder (it reminds me the ripe Blue Cheer of
Improved!, mostly for the use of guitar). But we don't feed on psychedelia solely, among
the tracks of this album. The blues approaching triumphs in
She's A Diamond, thanks
to Kendra's smooth voice accompanied by Roback's wah-wah guitar, rival of Leigh Stephens and
Randy Holden (who divided guitar-parts on Blue Cheer's album just mentioned).
The second side offers us too another sight of sounds and colours.
its melody) reminds me the obscure Syd Barrett of
Mad Cap Laughs (the first sensational
album by the great minstrel, released in 1970). I see again that grey striped room and a
lonely man, bare-footed, whose look is the tragic and mysterious mask under that is hidden a
mind peopled with nightmares and woes, that will collapse shortly after
Syd's soul lives
in this murky jewel. Or maybe they're only suggestions
No, indeed! The mystery arises
again in the next piece
Siamese Trap and who is ensnared with no way out is definitively
him, Syd Barrett; this time they aren't fancies: the air and the central guitar riff are
evidently taken from
No Man's Land, a song extracted always from
Mad Cap Laughs.
The whole is blended inside a brand new container, of course, where the ingredients aren't
necessarily the same of Barrett's music. Here there is a woman who sings and you can hear
Rightly I was asking myself, plunged into listening, what has happened to those wonderful
acoustic atmospheres, genuine oneiric musical pictures of a quiet segment cut out from the
American folk universe, that deflagrated calmly in pieces like
Northern Line when
Happy Nightmare appeared and snatched my mind
Now the circle is complete.
Soul Giver (already listened on their last EP)
seals the conclusion of one of the best albums of 1987. Undoubtedly. There are no words, in
fact, for describing the very sweet tangle of sensations recalled by this music, the mantric
flow of these notes, which seem slowly sewing on a very light dress made of marvellous harmonic
arabesques and winding shapes
Not only a masterpiece of neo-psychedelia, but also a record that everybody would have to listen to, at least once in a lifetime.
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