Eivind Opsvik — Overseas V (Loyal Label, 2017)
If I had to pick an overarching mood for bassist Eivind Opsvik‘s Overseas V, I’d say nervous energy. The compositions practically quiver with it.
“Izo” feels faster than it really is, for example, because the moderately fast bassline is augmented by a rolling, relentless guitar riff and tumbling bits of piano and sax. Some music conveys emotion; this track conveys “Keep moving, for god’s sake!”
Many of the songs, such as “I’m Up This Step” and “Brraps!,” are based on off-kilter repetition. The former sets up an angular, crooked space, with boundaries drawn and sometimes broken by Kenny Wolleson’s drums and Brandon Seabrook’s choppy guitar. “Brraps!” feels like it’s constantly shifting. You start off-balance, and then the music gives you a shove.
Judging by Opsvik’s comic pantomiming in video for “Brraps!,” that’s just the effect he’s going for.
Even the more serene tracks are deceptive. “Shoppers and Pickpockets” morphs from peaceful ballad mode into spiky piano from Jacob Sacks, augmented with Tony Malaby’s murmurs of sax. The cool, fluid “Extraterrestrial Tantrum” builds into shifting stormy melodies, undercut by what sounds like electronic percussion and Opsvik’s own echoey arco bass.
I’ve been aware of Opsvik and his Overseas album series, but this is my first time listening closely to his blend of cerebral jazz and jittery rock. The slower, pretty tracks are well worth your time, but the majority of the album is out to get your fingers and toes moving, if not more.