Opium Denn - Demarkation
There is something about Opium Denn, a new rock artist who refuses to be associated with a physical location or even a human body. When listening to his new concept album Demarkation, empirically it’s simply adequate prog rock with some blues and sound enhancement. With vocals that sound like Sebastian Bach after his balls finally dropped (we’re still technically waiting for that), Zappa-esque jazz guitar riffs and a song composition that is reminiscent of Phish, Opium Denn is technically clean yet unremarkable. However, after listening to Demarkation a few times, one wonders why this stuff is like potato chips; you kind of just can’t stop listening.
Calling the unique tones in his music “Health-Science Enhanced Vibrations,”(HEV) there seems to be a science to why one might feel an elevated heart rate or strange buzz while listening to Opium Denn’s music. Frequency manipulation is clearly involved, but this artist ain’t talking so far. We can only guess; the trick might be in the layout of the song, the tonal combinations or the echo effects used throughout the album. There is definitely something there. The full non-HEV album is available to stream on Opium Denn’s Soundcloud page, and there is a very subtle yet distinct difference from the HEV version. By his bio and Facebook page, this purposefully enigmatic artist would have listeners believe this difference is something esoteric. Maybe he’s right, but if he’s not, Demarkation is still an interesting piece of work by this and other tokens.
The release of the HEV versions of the tracks on Demarkation is being tightly controlled by the artist as a series of videos. The first three, “I Am a Feeling,” “Leaf” and “So Many Faces” have been released as a trilogy, each picking up where the last left off. These videos add to the confusion around Opium Denn somewhat. They are both trippy and hokey, and seem to describe a kind of life cycle with the use of guitars and horribly lifelike dolls a’la Team America World Police. Put these two elements together, and Opium Denn warns not to drive or operate heavy machinery while engaging with them.
The fourth video, “Drone,” has also been released, and continues the odd Barbie motif. Musically it is also the first track where Opium Denn showcases his guitar prowess more fully. With Santana-like solos as he plays masked in the video as the motion-stop action is superimposed over him, this clearly talented and interesting artist once again tries to create a mystique here which somewhat overshadows his real talent. It may be a case of too much at once, but if nothing else Opium Denn seems committed.
From a musical standpoint, Opium Denn’s Demarkation is well-composed and clean. There is also definitely something to the HEV concept, and if the listener cuts through the esoteric pomposity and unnecessary elusiveness, this concept album works very well. In terms of communicating the more “spiritual” elements involved, that might need more help. To the casual observer, that part can come off as a little corny and detract from this album being a really solid piece. Many listeners would also probably love to hear more about this HEV principle, so let’s hope more will be revealed as the videos for the rest of the tracks are released. If the full story behind the album is never explained, however, at the very least Demarkation achieves an interesting end: rock music for meditation.
Feb 01 2016
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance
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