How to describe the new album Opaque by POLA? Well imagine in some alternate timeline or reality where Ennio Morricone, Ry Cooder, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor were hired to write a score for a dystopian noir film that takes place in outer space. It’s a mysterious group of songs, filled with longing, melancholy, and plenty of sound swaths built for some serious existential pondering.
At least, that’s what I’m hearing.
POLA, the musical project that consists of Pádraig Roper and Greg Chiche, is super heavy on slow burn sonics. Their sound veers towards post-rock, while touching on the brooding film scores of Mica Levi, Johann Johannsson, and Cliff Martinez. But more than that, Opaque is a deep and dense musical world that tows the line between doomed romanticism and deconstruction.
Opaque as a whole is an emotional whirlwind. It opens on the epic “Quiet, Arid, and Still” which throughout its nearly 10-minute runtime is reminiscent of both The Doors’ “The End” and Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” as interpreted by Eternal Tapestry. It’s a moody ride of drones and guitar. “The Days Like Honey And The Nights Like Balm” has a sly groove to it with upright bass, slide guitar, and a sort of southwest feel. You can almost imagine a beat up Chevy Malibu skyrocketing through Death Valley as this plays.
“Parched Lake” is sad and melancholy, with touches of Nick Cave and Swans at their most moody and blue. The electric piano, acoustic bass, and guitar all come together beautifully here. “The Dimming” is all industrial noise and buzzing tension. It’s incidental music for getting lost. Cryptic and dizzying. “The Weirding” closes out the album, in both darkness and light. It builds on sparse tension and slide guitar that brings us to the end, back to that sort of jazzy noir feeling we started out on.
POLA’s Opaque is a unique and at times quite melancholy album. Dusty melodies and “big sky” emotions that sometimes overwhelms, it feels as if you’re staring out over some vast space contemplating it all.
7.8 out of 10
‘Opaque’ is available now via Soundtracking The Void. Buy it here.