NYC abstract electronic/industrial collective Opponents delivers yet another cranial bending ménage of glitchy and simplistic beat-box rhythm driven, eerie synth soundscapes of reverberated loops and shrieks which altogether compile a late night “made for TV” horror nightmare soundtrack heard as a sleep-wake sensory confusion. To give an example of the hallucinatory effect this album can have let me first begin by explaining some things. I live along a hill sloping into a canyon where there are active train tracks and although the majority of the rail traffic sound is masked by freeway traffic, the whirring and metallic screeches of trains passing can be heard at night. The other night it was about 85 degrees inside my house so I had all of the house windows open and three fans on upstairs where this record was playing. I went downstairs to feed the nagging pets and close the front door and could have sworn that there was a train wreck or some potential issue with one occurring because suddenly heard an angular sort of horn blaring along with a distorted steel scraping remeniscient of that of a train trying to come to a sudden halt. I froze and thought “Oh shit, something’s gonna happen…”, then the sound sort of faded as my rational mind started to kick in and I began to walk back upstairs and realizing that it was actually record that I’d heard. It was the right timing with certain frequencies masked by the fans blowing that cast something incredibly surreal and yet horribly real that for a few minutes did actually scramble my ability to perceive reality.
The record wasn’t even on very loud but in a small quiet house certain frequencies travel better than others and as I was approaching the upstairs level I was greeted with a murky crackling ambient synth wash of clicky analog beat and a haunting droning chorus of “…Dead Communication…Dead Comunication…” which was similar and yet quite different from what I’d just been hearing which must have been an transition between “Telepathic Times” and “Dead Communication” and at this time I was composed of equal parts intrigued, stunned, and perturbed. The first side of the LP, heard from a brief distance with minor interference, almost convinced me that a train wreck or potential accident of some sort like a suicide by train was occurring somewhere at the end of the street at 10:30 PM (?). Possibly it was a state of exhaustion from a heat wave and other stressors wearing on my nerves, but my other half was on the computer upstairs the entire time and when I told him what I’d heard he said that it sounded like that up there, within 3-5 feet of the speakers but due to the beats it wasn’t so skewed as it was downstairs so he knew it wasn’t as real as it sounded for me a few minutes back.
There’s a rare dreamlike alter reality that does not require any chemical induction or enhancement that Opponents can naturally craft from mere analog synth tinkering and spoken word that redefines psychedelic music to mean something more akin to being transformed into a psychedelic state through listening than music that is made already in that state to convey what the artist is experiencing. In other words, you don’t need drugs for this one to make the walls begin to melt like candle wax and shadows to dance as your heart palpitates and the room begins to spin on it’s own. Telepathic Times is the first Opponents vinyl release, but also shows a growth from what I vaguely remember them doing on prior releases to something that connects the crazy fucked up sci-fi brilliance of bizarre kraut rock/psyche with elements of Amon Duul I and II, Faust, Damenbart, Cluster, Popul Vuh… into a spiraling spectrographic laser show of projected two tone oddities on a wall that flutter and flicker with the reverberating sounds welding together urban decay and desolate industrial landscapes with dayglo color. And unlike the last Opponents PT release Together We Will End the Future which, much like TT continues to here, did showcase a love of Berlin school electronics and very early industrial workings but there the songs there were substantially more dronescape bedroom/beanbag fitting than what they are doing here. And let me say that there is nothing ultimately droning about Telepathic Times. Side A on its own was already a thrill ride for my neural system that was as unexpectedly disturbing as it was ironically soothing but certainly did not prepare me for the gritty spoken word psychedelic turn on side B that begins with a hypnotic and warm wall of thick reverberating analog fog blurbs of 60’s sci-fi post apocalyptic Dr. Strangelove transmissions of “Trying to Form a Memory”.
Here the beats become sputtering snare drum clacks and snaps that feel more like hot oil spattering when water is thrown onto it than actual percussive rhythms in contrast to the grooving click-hop minimal synthwave electro pumps on side A. Much of the early industrial, mechanic, shrill, metallic, inhuman elements from Side A are now abandoned for more animated electronic psychedelia but as the album progresses from the nihilistic “Dead Communication” through the post apocalyptic “Trying to Force a Memory” into the quirky melodic Leary acid drop sound meets Liquid Television imagery of “Run” (think back to those weird alien bird creatures that would stick their trumpet snouts into holes) which continues into “I’ll Be Your Government (Separate the Equal)” and will certainly have your brain leaking out through your ears. Opponents certainly know how to pierce through into the subconscious through analog stimulation through a clever weaving of deranged and pleasurable, sometimes relaxing and meditative expanses of audio vibrations. In the wrong hands this is extremely dangerous so hopefully they are converting us all into political zombies as we succumb to drone and groove of their devising.
You can sample some of these mentioned songs a the link below:
The pressing is limited to 166 copies and will certainly be one of those long sought after releases that many will discover too late and possibly never behold the physical brilliance that is the album itself rotating at 33RPM of sleek black glossy UFO presence.