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Opus Est - Opus 1

Opus Est - Opus 1Prog, like classical, often gains inspiration from literature as illustrated by this album from Swedish band, Opus Est.  Opus Est was formed in the late 70ís with influences from Genesis, YES and ELP.  From what I can gather, the band composed quite a few pieces though only some were ever professionally recorded.  In 1982, the band won a radio competition with a prize of the use of a mobile studio for a week and this resulted in the limited release of Opus 1 in 1983.  Only 500 copies were pressed and only a handful remained unsold.  Sadly, the band decided to quit due to lack of success (with proper distribution at the time it may have been a different story).

Back to 2003, and Musea have released the album on CD with three bonus tracks.  Eight out of the eleven tracks use poems by W. H. Auden as lyrics including the well known Miss Gee, Audenís observation of how illness and circumstance is stereotyped in society.  When the album was originally released, the band didnít bother to obtain the rights to use Audenís Ďlyricsí as the album was never intended for commercial release.  Naturally, Musea have settled this legal hiccup for the Ďproper release.

Compositionally, the Genesis influences shine through, particularly where the song takes a humorous approach, yet there is also a hint of Marillion as may be expected in the early 80ís when the music was written. However, the overall sound is very similar to that of British band, Galahad, especially the vocals.

The final track, No Change Of Place is a live recording and I would imagine they would be as good to watch as Grace (The Poet, the Piper etc.) in a live environment.  Maybe we will get the chance sometime as bass player Kent Olofsson has broached the subject of a reunion with the other members of the band.

Hearing Opus 1 makes me wonder just how much music there is that has not had the chance to be heard by a wider audience and probably never will be.  According to the comprehensive sleeve notes accompanying this CD, Musea are considering releasing a new Opus Est album of previously unreleased tracks.  Letís hope it happens.

Jem Jedrzejewski



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