What can't be said about about Eric Prydz? As far as electronic musicians are concerned, there's few artists that can even compare to the Swedish DJ/producer. To progressive house music (and I mean, REAL progressive house) he attains the same status that Paul Van Dyk or Armin Van Buuren have for trance; he is the king, the G.O.A.T.. His unwavering dedication to his sound and his utter disregard for any current industry trends have earned him unanimous respect, and his consistency throughout the years, both with his his self titled work and side projects, Pryda and Cirez D, is unprecedented in electronica. It wasn't until last year, when Reddit named him the true #1 DJ on the planet, that he finally started to receive the credit he deserves. He was even too cool to be in Swedish House Mafia and declined their offer to be the 4th member, a choice i'm sure he doesn't regret.
So as a pretty obvious Prydz worshiper, it puts me in a bit of a weird spot to review his debut album Opus and try to be as unbiased as possible. But this album really came out of the blue, especially since we were given so much content last year with the Pryda 10 releases, we weren't given much time to actually build up anticipation, unlike the recent Chemical Brothers or Prodigy albums which had me biting my nails like a kid waiting for Christmas. This begs the question, was Opus some grand project that was many years in the making or was it simply a select handful of tunes from the vast library of unreleased Prydz tracks that he concocts on a regular basis (a process that he clarified in his recent interview on Resident Advisor).
I'll have to go with the latter on this one, for there isn't much that makes Opus stand out from the rest of Eric's catalog besides his mid tempo collab with Knife Party and Pendulum‘s Rob Swire. This isn't necessarily a bad thing since the entire album front to back is Prydz at his most melodic and moody best, but given the scale of Pryda 10 vol III (which was practically a full length LP on its own) I can't help but feel Opus is slightly devalued, especially since there's such a thin line separating the Pryda sound with Eric Prydz. The album seems more like Pryda 10 vol IV rather than the groundbreaking debut album from one of dance music's greatest talents.
However anyone who knows Prydz, understands that the man has never been an innovator as much as he is an overachiever. It's this perspective where you can really appreciate Opus for the technical and composition marvel that it is. I'll restate that every track on this album is either great or fantastic and keeps the listener in house heaven until the graceful fade out into the following tune. Epic, swelling pads and chilling, stratospheric synths developing alongside the wide, perfectly layered melodies that encompass the traditional Prydz-ey formula honestly sound cleaner and crispier than ever. Trademarks like the Pryda snare and in full effect with whip-like snap and stiff distinction. His passion for 80s also seeps through the cracks with a few noticeable retro tones in some of the tunes, especially in “Moody Monday” with it's Depeche Mode inspired vocals.
Regardless of similarity, each track on the record has at least one element that's memorable. The dark, deep atmosphere of “Klepht”, the swirling melodic push of “Trubble”, the warming piano in the breakdown of “Collider”, or the uplifting chords in “Last Dragon”, which are some of the best we've heard since his seminal hit “Every Day”, make for such a satisfying listening experiences that you'll surely want to revisit on many occasions down the line. Speaking of “Every Day”, that makes an appearance on Opus as well, along with numerous other Prydz classics like “Liberate”, “Generate“, an extra symphonic remake of “Mija” and of course the title track “Opus“, which caps off the album in an appropriate sonic orgasm of a buildup.
Simply put, there's house music and then there's Eric Prydz. No amount of distorted grimey, filth filled bassline or over, stimulated, off key, bigroom, cheap thrills can match the elation of singing along to the chorus of “Generate” or the flawless atmospheric build into the main hook of “Every Day”. It's not even just the elite, masterclass level of production expertise that Prydz brings to make every single note of every sound used, but it's the emotional connection that mixes with the music to create something truly extraordinary. Opus won't start a revolution, but it's Prydz at his very best, which is something that all electronic fans should experience.
Pros: Technically impressive, Great songwriting, Memorable and classic songs that still hold up years later.
Cons: Lacks experimentation
Best songs: Every Day, Collider, Last Dragon, Mija (Re-scored)