Projector Mapping






When Hunter P. Thompson aka Opaline approaches his setup of synthesizers in Portland, Oregon, rest assured that this erudite endeavor regularly results in a wondrous array of omnipresent enchantment particles. Being a luminary in the fields of New Age, cyberspace capsules and the tiniest bit of Vaporwave emeralds, Opaline’s arpeggiated synthonies are more often than not based on two constituents which, when united, result in euphoria: memorable melodies on the one hand which are realized via equally enthralling textures and surfaces on the other hand. Whether he revs up the drone cascades on his aerial helios-reel Flight Patterns (Twin Springs Tapes, 2013) with argentine rhythm reticulations or collaborates with soul brother Steve Targo in order to create fir-green alluvial strata as Mango Differential, Opaline worships the synth and has a good ear for tone sequences. This is also proven on his eleven-track tape Projector Mapping, released on Benjamin Krarup’s Denmark-based Phinery Tapes label. Available to purchase and stream at Bandcamp, Portland’s synthesist has found a more than fitting abode within the realms of this label. Here, he spawns rather pointillized creations, meaning that the gyring melodies are upfront, with the mucoid drones and airy counterparts oozing around this epicenter. Reminiscent of the past while gently pushing the listener into a bit-crushed future, Projector Mapping ejects, rejects, retrojects ad infinitum… within the boundaries of the tape.


Projector Mapping in all its vivacity and as photographed by Benjamin Krarup.


Caproic crystals coruscating cajolingly: the majestic opener Self & Proxy showcases what is so utterly right – and wrong! – with Opaline’s seraphic susurrations. Thompson’s potentially wrong approach is to completely ostracize both realism and reality from his music, but synth aficionados will rejoice when they encounter the scintillating square lead chime scrimshaw vesiculating over the powerful bass drones of yesteryear, followed by an arpeggiated hexangular acid quilting; rhythm and languor are in unison. The adjacent Restless Architecture encapsulates the same tangible blotchiness, featuring rotatory cyan pads pro- and contrajected onto a gorgeously viscoelastic peritoneum of aeriform flute-like profusions, with New Realities serving as the bleepy 8-bit arcade antrum which superimposes the reverberation of parallax plasticizers onto recondite nonentities, thereby allowing the listening subject to feast on the chimescape’s pristine serration… presented in purified pentatonicism, naturally.


Meanwhile, Horizon Circuit delineates a rather granular helix of electric current, absconded proton elastics and aqueous tone sequences of a certain Baroqueness. Hunter P. Thompson’s simulation of a powdered harpsichord loses most of the connotative chintziness and swirls amid the ethereal cyberdust, letting its arabesques transcend into grainy aureoles. Whereas The Projector resembles an unexpectedly sinister spy theme embroidery charged with bleepy snares, apocryphal claves and shadowy syrinx streams which are somewhat resemblant of Discoverer’s Tunnels (Digitalis Recordings, 2012), albeit much more pressing, Opaline returns to longitudinal cherubim cloudlets in Skyocean whose title aptly describes the simultaneous dualism of gyring glass globs and similarly diaphanous azure pericarps. Cerulean and benthic at once, this beatless – but not rhythmless – Ambient troposphere keeps the pace and never loses its equanimity. How riotously raucous the rhizomes of Sleep Screen are in comparison! Merging the gustatory aura of mephitic metalization with the decorticated disharmonies of warped steel mill drones, this interlude twirls into the uncanny abyss. Brazen afterglows and somnolent fibers, this piece is one holy hell of a thiazide.


Always keen on displaying a certain mystique that is distantly similar to the Space Ambient or even the antecedent Space-Age genre, Opaline agglutinates said enigmatic aurora with vanillarific pikes of euphonious illuminants. Light & Cortex is the track where these counter-notions come to fruition. Galactic glissandos meet convulsive chroma cannelures, but in lieu of a universal gigantomachy, harmonious key unfoldings in major genuflect before the post-millennial New Age genre and evoke haphazard – not hazardous – horticultural hues akin to Panabrite’s uplifting Wizard Chimes (Gift Tapes, 2010). Nothing, however, prepares the listener of the centerpiece coming through, the epically effulgent equilibrioception named Value Of History. Clocking in at over ten minutes, Hunter P. Thompson dovetails sweeping pink noise whitecaps with erbaceously sylvan synth washes. Their treetops are filled with beguilingly glistening gongs. This triad is accompanied and outshadowed in the track’s later phase; once the harp-oid Asian melodies serve as a vestibule to sylphlike chasteness, the allure only grows as every texture is absorbed and converted into bliss. Juxtaposed with this magenta multiplex is Only In Night, an Ambient aphorism of the clerical kind: ophidian organs and malleable pedals serve as the interconnected gravitas to attract beautifully helical cosmic coils whose vitreous whistles dock at the listener’s mindfulness, causing severe textural memorization patterns. With the final piece Lens Curve, Opaline bows out with a woodpecker symphony. An arpeggio galore filled with cautiously Detroit-y molecular fusions, uplifting angelic syrinx surfaces and glossy hyperpolished translucency flares, the endpoint functions as a vortex to life-affirming insouciance.


Projector Mapping is a tape for a certain clientele, one who is somewhat – but not entirely – fed up with sumptuously pompous dark matter synths that populate those antediluvian Arizona tapes and truckloads of synthetic sinews. Opaline’s music differs. The artist worships a titration process that is less reliant on cavalcades of echoes. Instead, mellow reverb settings and comparable decay thresholds unfold in order to not harm the bona fide sÿnthorama. Most of the pointillistic droplets, bubbles and stardust patterns are surprisingly crunchy, playful and immediate, so it is the task of the bokeh of fuzzy drone airflows to amplify the immersion and provide a silkened copse behind the decortication. And immersive Opaline’s tape is alright, for it neglects to address the black backdrop and uses this nothingness as a contrastive device to let the chime cataracts glow even more incandescently. A cyberspace aura lies in the air, melting with the New Age flavor that oozes through every interstice between the callisthenic chords. Overall, the listening subject is allowed to feel welcome, to absorb and inhale the shining fractals and vortices. There is a good vibe in the air, a progressive amalgamation of positive thoughts. It is therefore no exaggeration to call Opaline a synth spectrologist, one who transmogrifies nutritious beams of light into albumin allusions. Projected onto the inner eye and consequentially mapped out, Hunter P. Thompson’s Projector Mapping is both an audible vitrectomy and a feast for genre aficionados.


Further listening and reading: 


Ambient Review 380: Opaline – Projector Mapping (2014). Originally published on Oct. 1, 2014 at AmbientExotica.com.