Describing their style as „Latin Desert & Funeral Party“ music, Opez clearly go their own special way. But listen to the debut album „Dead Dance“ and you will find that this path is quite an exciting one. Set in a haunting environment of acoustic instruments and an expertly stylish production, the twelve songs recorded by duo Massi Amadori und Francesco Tappi are a journey into a twilight world of emotion and imagination.
If you take an off-road trip to the region north of Perugia and south of Firenze, west of Livorno and east of San Marino you will find a number of little recording studios. This is Italy’s heartland you pass through when you travel down from Milano towards Rome. It is exactly here where multi-instrumentalists Massi Amadori (guitars, slide guitar, percussions, ukulele, freeze sound & harmonium) and Francesco Tappi (double bass, bows, whistle) recorded „Dead Dance“. Les Paul or Django Reinhardt immediately come into mind during a first listen, even the Mississippi Delta blues sound or Billy Vaughn’s happy orchestral sound being turned completely upside down. But “Dead Dance” has its own individual melancholy, a lonely sound supervised by Italian afro-jazz-fusion expert Andrea Benini of Mop Mop, not too far away from Angelo Badalamenti’s mysterious soundscapes for David Lynch’s „Twin Peaks“ series, especially on the dark and entangling “Sanfisa”.
With additional musicians like the two percussionists and drummers Fabio Paglierani, an expert in dub who brings a echoing twist to the sultry groove of “Adriatica” and the first single and video “Carlos Primero” or Fabio “Mocambo” Tozzi who puts “Estelita”, “Diavolanza”, “Malinco” and “Libre” into an authentic Fifties environment “Dead Dance”
is a band affair. The vocals of Annalisa Bartolini (“Carlos Primero” and “Sangoda”) as well as Dimitri “Didi” Mazzs (“Malinco”) add to the complete picture. As Opez have been very strict about their acoustic appearance, the more they are happy now about the result, „Tristu“ with its folk textures followed by the near tex-mex balladry of „Corolla” are two of the many highlights on “Dead Dance”. They were cut directly to tape, no overdubs or long mixing sessions involved. This is why “Dead Dance” sounds very spiritual, almost out of the real world: „To be honest, we would love to play our music in churches. We are not your normal type of rock band, you know“, says Massi Amadori, who is the main songwriter in the duo and responsible for all compositions on the album. Although “Dead Dance” sometimes feels reminiscent of the Cowboy Junkies’ romantic Americana or Los Lobos’ truthful adaption of traditional cumbia or bolero, “we see ourselves as very Italian, very local.”
The stunning artwork and the accompanying video were created by Aimone Marziali who is also one of the producers responsible for the sonically enhanced “Balera Del Mar”, the closing tune on the album. Creating a mixture of the classic pre-Raphaelite drawings by 19th century painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti and what George Yepes did for Los Lobos on their „La Pistola Y El Corazón.“ album, Marziali is an integral part of the Opez cosmos. „Of course, the artwork is a crucial to what we want to achieve,” adds Amadori. “Our music is very visual, very sensual and emotional. It is not only about an acoustic experience but it appeals to all senses.”