We live in troubled times. The turnover of bands and musicians in the underground is frighteningly high. The advantages of the digital age – increased reach, increased access to fans, ability to move beyond a specific geographical area etc. have largely turned out to be pipe dreams not least because, as bands have spread their reach, so listeners are presented with a startling array of choice. The lack of an effective filter has proved to be as problematic as the lack of choice that preceded it and the result is that bands, as much now as ever, rely on word of mouth and PR to get beyond their local circle. It is, therefore, always a pleasure to catch up with a band who showed immense promise and who have returned with a new work not only living up to expectation but surpassing it. Opensight are one such band. Their latest effort, ‘ulterior motive’, expands upon the template laid down by their previous release, ‘the voice of nothing’ (reviewed here), ably living up to the band’s stated ambition of captivating ‘not only the ear but the imagination’.
A five track EP, ‘Ulterior motive’ is a remarkable ride that plays out over twenty-eight dizzying minutes, incorporating jazz, metal, progressive and more in a manner that marks these four sonic travellers out as both fine musicians and imaginative song writers. The filmic trip begins with a bizarre 8 bit intro that segues into the powerhouse prog rock of ‘Alibi’, a track that sounds like Devin Townsend jamming on Dream Theater and The Mars Volta in an underground jazz bar. With carefully arranged synths (composed by vocalist / guitarist Ivan David Amaya and guitarist Genia Penksik) bringing a Lynchian atmosphere to the track and vital guitar riffs giving way to nimble interludes bearing more than a hint of Faith no More’s twisted excursions into lounge music, ‘Alibi’ leaves no sonic stone unturned and yet, despite the eclecticism, it’s a coherent piece that weaves a dream like web around the listener and provides the perfect entry to the fast-paced workout of ‘the chase’. With an underpinning rhythm drawn from seventies funk, a thunderous beat from drummer extraordinaire Redd Reddington and a clever juxtaposition between airy verse and full-throttle chorus, ‘the chase’ builds upon the ground laid out by ‘Alibi’ and sees Opensight unveiling ever more ambitious plans for world domination. At the heart of the EP lies the swirling progressive maelstrom that is ‘Vanishing point’. Another track that shifts tone and mood with schizophrenic ease, ‘Vanishing point’ features an extended instrumental passage that demonstrates the remarkable versatility of guitarist Genia and the whole band show a near-psychic level of intuition in the way their instruments weave around one another.
With the band travelling an immense sonic landscape, ‘Ulterior Motif’ provides a moment’s pause as Opensight explore the weird hinterlands more traditionally occupied by the likes of Portishead, the music weaving between the heavier riffs of the earlier tracks and the orchestral film scores of John Barry. An instrumental track awash with rich synth strings, ‘Ulterior motif’ recalls Faith No More’s epic take on ‘theme from Midnight cowboy’ before segueing neatly into the EP’s closing track, ‘Antagonist’. Another varied track, ‘Antagonist’ sounds like an alternate universe Muse wherein that band had been raised on Tool, Miles Davis and Ulver, although, as always, Opensight sound like nothing so much as themselves. It’s a lengthy and impressive conclusion to the EP and it leaves the listener very much wanting more.
Opensight are a band very much of the old school, paying attention not only to the composition and production of their music, but also to the packaging in which it arrives. The EP comes in a handsome digipack which looks, for all the world, like the cover to some long lost exploitation movie (a theme reflected in the impressive visuals which frame the band’s live show), and such attention to detail only helps to make the band’s output more impressive. With incredibly strong production (courtesy of Guillermo “Will” Maya), impressive musicianship throughout and a remarkable degree of individuality in an age where everything appears to be drifting toward the homogenous, ‘Ulterior Motives’ is a magnificent piece of work and one that deserves a place on the shelf of any discerning music fan.
Find out more about Opensight here.