Okapi - Opera Riparata
At first glance you can determine that an artist with the name of Okapi, has some extra special Scandinavian talent backed with a moniker such as that -- the slashed through O gives it away. It doesn't take a lot to figure out that this cult turntablist is somewhat of a revolutionary artist amongst the technically savvy electro enthusiasts. With a quick Google search, you can discover a lot from, real-name Fillippo Paolini, and his experimental projects of reworking various pieces with an outcome just as creative and ambitious as one would think. His latest effort, Opera Riparata translated in English to "Fixed Opera," is no different, but maybe just with a little twist.
This new project is a series of batches that have been scattered amongst an eclectic group of music blogs. The entire album is a total of forty classical operas re-worked, remixed and downsized with a time frame of 1:11 each. What may seem like a a recreation of legendary compositions meant to be untouched, ends up naturally working well with a fun scavenger hunt to go along with each release.
Batch 1: Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, and Rossini start off setting Okapi's mode and style. The highlight of this first set is at 2:22, with the transition into Beethoven's 'Obertura Fidelio y Sinfonica Eroica.' Okapi manages to remix an entire symphony piece down to a minute and deliver an impressive start to the album.
Batch 2: With a more impressive set, it's hard not to get excited when the listener has eight more batches to pick apart. This set includes Verdi, Weber and Bellini and includes five operas -- four out of the five are overtures. The speed is amped up with intensity, highlighting the dramatic portions of the strings. And smoother transitions with an added hip-hop flair contributes to the easy-listening. Both playful and dramatic, the overtures, in their original pieces have been flipped accordingly by Okapi, making them a fitting way to end each opera and the entire set.
Batch 3: Bizet, Strauss, and Puccini. Bizet's Carmen Overture is made into a vaudevillian, lively and fun piece, while a transition into Strauss' 'Zwischenspiel aus Capriccio's Interlude' contrasts into a sweeping, romantic full minute in between the three operas.
Batch 4: Okapi whips out his signature style and goes full-swing into the glitchy feel at the halfway point of the album. With samples from the already recognizable works of Bellini, Wagner, and Strauss, Monteverdi and A. Lombard are added to the mix to this quintet. Often chaotic, Okapi still manages to stress the vocals of each opera making this batch character-driven to the point where it's almost melodramatic and more than just an experiment, but rather a piece of audio that comes to life.
Batch 5: The introduction is set with a vulnerable mood and Okapi has now established a polished set of previous batches that all contribute to the realistic approach to accompanying every opera up to this point with a visual. Imagine watching a film set on rewind, Okapi has now creates a standard and takes his listeners on a journey through appreciating operas in a new way and into his genius mind. The batch though takes a sudden unexpected turn with a piercing closing, that leaves us again in a haunting scene from a visual he has made up for us to imagine.
Batch 6-9: Seemless execution is established. Up to this point, every detail contributes to the flow of the album. Some parts are highly syncopated, which make the originals often recognizable, but all stay true to Okapi's attempt to create multiple polished pieces of work that give us something to think about.
Whether you like mashups, classical operas or inventive producers, Opera Riparata is worth a listen. This album has yet to finish up with the final batch to be released on August 21 on Illegal Art. Opera Riparata is a tribute to the "broken opera" created by fellow Italian artist, Bruno Munari. With split samples from studio and live sessions, the batches provide a quick run-through of a pastime that will make you just appreciate this fresh take and ambitious project that could anger a few opera fanatics. But with those unlikely fans set aside, you can't help but wrap your mind around how entire operas can somehow sound modern in a minimum size of just over a minute long. Though some songs fell flat and predictable, Okapi has put together a collection of unthinkable efforts for this tribute to Munari. And while this project may not mix in with the similar works in the current electronic scene, at the moment, it's a sign of a good thing, that Paolini is somewhat breaking through from the mold and is thankfully showcasing this type of talent now. Definitely something much different from what you've been listening to lately.