Jason van Wyk’s Opacity opens with the glowing colours of a sunrise. A darling of a record, its sedate notes weave a sweet spell; with its pillows of soft light, its calming atmosphere is reminiscent either of a sleepy dawn or a rainy evening.
With music like this, your heart will still be coming down from the clouds of soon-to-decay dreams.
The ambient-electronic touches linger in the still air. Piano and strings also frequent the music, and there’s a bubbling chemistry between the instruments, like long-lost friends recently reunited. It isn’t entirely a piano-centred record, because the other elements and instruments are far more than embellishment or decoration, although the piano is the dominant and over-arching force. Its lovingly-designed and incredibly thoughtful phrases are like pebble-strewn paths through a lush country garden; its healthy tones and achingly tender sequences make the heart melt.
Opacity is soporific and quietly powerful music – yes, its power is in its quiet, introverted personality – able to move the listener while never for a second segueing into sentimentality or eye-rolling romanticism. The cooler piano brings dark blue hues and midnight shades to the fore as it’s fused with red-blooded electronic melodies and arpeggios. Violins (played by Brittany Dilkes and Gavin Clayton) join cellist Lynne Donson, and these instruments bring a natural maturity and poise to the music.
The younger electronics cannot bring this to the table, but they can do other things. Each part of the music’s body has a very specific, and equally important, function, and one wouldn’t work without the other. The warm electronics are able to teleport the music into the modern era. They coalesce surprisingly well, and in so doing, they demonstrate a level of deep maturity, too. On ‘Recollect’, for instance, the ambient atmosphere, so much like the sigh of a breeze over a wind-swept dale, sits beside a contemplative piano, and when the piano disappears, the snaking synths are able to work their way in, coiling stealthily around the track and shining in the pale moonlight. The end result is nothing short of spectacular.
Jason van Wyk creates a delicate atmosphere, a soundtrack to a special moment that can never be repeated. The sounds are well-honed and everything is in check. Both haunting and incredibly moving, Opacity is one of the year’s highlights, and Jason van Wyk has produced one of 2017’s gems.