GLITTERHOUSE (DE): Big recommendation!
"...That music like this can be so enjoyable, in spite of the fact that you could consider it – at least partially – as “difficult” and enormously elaborate, is quite a gift! Big recommendation!"
Great line-up, great (concept-) work, rather unique music! Four interrelated suite-like parts (”movements”) add up to a symphony of a very special kind. A very intriguing amalgam of different folk influences (Nordic, Balkan, and, in the third and fourth parts, also oriental and Mediterranean) and harmonious neo-classic.
Musik an sich (DE): a little matchless masterpiece (19/20)
"...they have created a little matchless masterpiece.
The new album of Danish world music outfit Afenginn (i.e. Bastard Etno , Lux ) is called Opus, and it has turned out to be indeed the most ambitious work of the band around Kim Rafael Nyberg (mandolin, piano, compositions) and Rasmus Krøyer (clarinets). Nyberg devised the album as a classical symphony. Every letter of the word Opus stands for one movement, each being compiled of different parts melting into one another.
Certainly there is a certain danger to overstrain yourself with a project like this, but Kim Rafael Nyberg and Afenginn have enough experience to face the risks, and in my opinion, they have created a little matchless masterpiece. They blend folk elements with world and classical music and season this mix with a certain hint of melancholy, just the way you would expect from Afenginn. The band certainly benefitted from a bit of assistance. Trondur Bogason, a composer hailing from the Faroe Islands, devised many of the arrangements together with Kim Rafael Nyberg, and Timo Hapaniemi from Finland wrote lyrics in a self-created language, called “street Latin” by the band, which fits the music beautifully. Apart from that, Afenginn invited a number of guest musicians to their sessions, creating an authentic chamber symphonic experience for the listener.
Therefore, Opus isn’t just ambitious, it is also a new peak in Afenginn’s musical development. This is no background music but long-lasting enjoyment, an exciting record even at the 10th listen. How this music will be adapted for live shows remains to be seen, but the band will certainly find a way. Great album!
SOUND AND IMAGE (DE): SIMPLY FANTASTIC!
The wealth of expression ranges from quiet moments to anthemic eruptions, all arranged in good style and played in an almost graphic way. Simply fantastic!
Afenginn - Opus
Without a doubt, the Scandinavian band Afenginn has already achieved astonishing things and put them on record, as you can read elsewhere on this page.
With their new album Opus, they have reached yet another level. It all started when Nyberg, while being on tour in Australia (or rather, at a trip to the seaside), injured his foot quite badly, and since the doctor told him not to travel and especially not to fly, he had to stay in Southern Tasmania for 40 days. Thankfully, Nyberg had a fit of composing euphoria during this time, and the result is this double album, constructed like a classical symphony and build from four movements.
The fateful trip to the Australian oyster grounds had its hidden benefits: this album consists of tightly arranged, symphonic world music made to break any pigeon holes. It is imaginative and intoxicating up to the tiniest note, and Nyberg has managed to create a kind music with a strong addictive quality that just makes you long for more. The regular line-up was complemented by strings and horns to make the orchestral structure even more dream-like and symphonic. The wealth of expression ranges from quiet moments to anthemic eruptions, all arranged in good style and played in an almost graphic way. Simply fantastic!
Tip Berlin (DE): Unique!
"...a kind of chamber music like it has never been heard before. Unique!"
CHAMBER MUSIC EXPERIMENT
Afenginn (Old Norse for “intoxication”) have designed their exciting new double album as a four-movement symphony, filled with Scandinavian folk and traditional Balkan sounds as well as classical music, ranging from renaissance tunes to the Minimal Music of our time. The Copenhagen ensemble combines theme variations and rhythms provided by two drummers to create a kind of chamber music like it has never been heard before. Unique!
"...This album is one grand feast.."
In their music, [Afenginn] blend Scandinavian folk with rhythmic and energetic Balkan sounds as well as with the freedom of jazz and classical music. On their latest double CD Opus, particularly this last influence comes stronger to the fore. Opus consists of four movements, just like a symphony, which are again divided into songs. Afenginn have now grown into a band with seven members, among them two drummers. Apart from that, they invited 15 additional guest musicians to the studio to devise a incomparable sound of epic proportions. This album is one grand feast, and to take you to the big festival halls in your imagination, we’re now playing the complete third movement of Opus. Afenginn!
GAESTELISTE (DE): a record like this hasn’t been done before
Without a doubt: a record like this hasn’t been done before, not in this form and consistency, and this alone should be reason enough to explore this particular Opus.
Afenginn - Opus
The title of Afenginn’s newest work could not have been more to the point – Opus has turned out to be a proper symphony. The double album, strictly instrumental apart from a few choral elements, is constructed as a continual fugue, whose parts blend sinuously into a conclusive whole. Musically, the Danish quintet (who once caused quite a stir by performing on a sunken fishing boat on the coast of the Faroe Islands) presents everything needed for a striking melange of classical, minimal, folk and world music, tempered with a touch of jazz, rock and ambient. The main surprise is the direction, because Afenginn don’t focus on Scandinavian tradition but use Slavic and oriental influences which always blend perfectly and almost inevitably into the flow. Without a doubt: a record like this hasn’t been done before, not in this form and consistency, and this alone should be reason enough to explore this particular Opus.
NORDISCHE MUSIK (DE)
"...A very ambitious work which lives up to its name."
The reason why Opus turned out to be a double CD is explained by Afenginn mastermind Kim Rafael Nyberg in the liner notes: He had ruptured his plantaris tendon in Tasmania and, in consequence, was grounded there for 40 days and 40 nights – a downtime he used to write most of the material for Opus.
The double CD is divided into four parts which Nyberg compares to the structure of a symphony. Every part has a different theme and a different focus of sound. Again, Afenginn conjure up a colourful kaleidoscope of Nordic folk, jazzy harmonies, ethno influences from all over the world and classically inspired structures which dominate the tightly composed parts of the musical pieces. Apart from Nyberg on mandolin and piano, the band consists of Rasmus Krøyer (cl, bcl), Niels Skovmand (vi), Erik Olevik (cello, b), Kaare Munkholm (vib, marimba, p) and the two percussionists Knut Finsrud and Ulrik Brohuus. They are supported by cittern maestro Ale Carr and further guest musicians on trombone and trumpet.
During the first two parts (making up the first CD), Afenginn almost sound as they usually do. The music seems very controlled and structured, and in places, it is reminiscent of the Penguin Café Orchestra. The third part is the best; Afenginn focus here on oriental elements and sometimes don’t sound Northern European at all. The last part is dominated by vocals and with its many singers, it even bears resemblance to medieval chants. A very ambitious work which lives up to its name. (tjk)
song quality: 4/6
"...Opus is a fantastic double album that defies any clear classification..."
Opus is a fantastic double album that defies any clear classification. The Danish project Afenginn has indeed created an opus in the classical sense: four movements, each of them running for 20 minutes, connected by recurring motifs, containing elements of folk, ethno, classical music, pop and jazz, played primarily on acoustic instruments: innovative, dynamic and doleful at the same time. In Old Norse, Afenginn means intoxication and strength. This idea, combined with sensitivity, imaginative sounds, complex rhythms and extreme musical mastery, serves as a perfect approach to the wonderful music of Afenginn. One of the bands founders, the Finnish-born Kim Rafael Nyberg, describes the music like this: “I think the result is somewhere between cinematic chamber music and Sigur Rós.”
"...the musical abilities displayed by the Danish band are phenomenal..."
afenginn - opus
Sometimes, something has to go wrong to show you how complex the machine called human being actually is. This is just what Afenginn boss Nyberg discovered when he suffered a rupture of the plantaris tendon in Southern Tasmania and was consequently grounded for 40 days on the island. He decided to make the best out of this enforced rest and used the time to develop the basic ideas for Opus. The record consists of four movements, each lasting 20 minutes and being divided into smaller parts, yet displaying a higher concept; the whole work as such is structured to follow the lines of a classical symphony.
RHYTHMS (AUS)"...excellence in musicianship..."
Afenginn’s Opus is not only aptly named but it also matches the excellence in musicianship set by some of Denmark’s most eclectic and exciting combos, most notably the long-established New Jungle Orchestra. An ambitious double album in four parts, in which all tracks in each movement are tied together, it draws on Scandinavian folk, world music, classical and rock influences without adhering to conventional structure.
As on In Strange Lands, the latest original music produced by Afenginn’s composer, frontman and mandolinist/pianist, Kim Rafael Nyberg, utilises Balkan melody and rhythm to a fair degree — most noticeably in the suites’ dashing third movement. Technically speaking, Opus is not an instrumental album since there is a vocal component, one based on a hybrid tongue that blends elements of Finnish, Latin, Spanish and German into associative lines. Nyberg’s rationale for this unique language is that it promotes curiosity while dovetailing with Afenginn’s musical universe.
Cool clarinet, mellow brass and fiddles occupy the lead lines, with malleted drums and percussion doing the heavy lifting!
Afenginn’s leader explains that his magnum opus —reportedly hatched in Tasmania during an Australian tour with the band — in some way mirrors how life often evolves: “uncontrollable, unforeseeable, yet still somehow navigable”. It’s an apt way to describe Opus.