Norway’s progressive pop collective THE OPIUM CARTEL returns with Ardor, the follow-up to their acclaimed debut Night Blooms.
Taking inspiration from 80’s art-pop/dreampop like The Blue Nile, Japan, The Dream Academy and Prefab Sprout, songwriter and guitarist/keyboardist Jacob Holm-Lupo weaves a luminous web of complex but appealing pop with proggy overtones, mixing neon-stained 80s melancholy with the urban panoramas of M83 and Air. Armed with a huge arsenal of period synths and drum machines and a warm, dynamic production, THE OPIUM CARTEL expands the sound of their debut album while still retaining its intimate and somewhat mysterious ambience.
Among the musicians on the album are No-Man/Henry Fool’s Tim Bowness and Stephen James Bennett, Änglagård/White Willow/Pineforest Crunch drummer Mattias Olsson, Wobbler keys man Lars Fredrik Frøislie, Ellen Andrea Wang & Harald Lassen from indie jazz comets Pixel, flautist Ketil Einarsen (Wobbler, White Willow, Motorpsycho, Jaga Jazzist) and finally two extraordinary vocalists: Venke Knutson, one of Norway’s most successful pop singers with six Top 10 hits to her credit, and Alexander Stenerud of electro-pop duo Zuma – considered by many to be the true heirs of A-Ha. And finally the project is led by guitarist/songwriter Jacob Holm-Lupo, best known as the leading light behind Norway’s foremost art rock band, White Willow.
Among the musical hightlights of the album are “When We Dream“, a wistful anthem about age, love and loss and also the lead single off the album, as well as a delicate cover of Blue Öyster Cult’s classic ballad “Then Came the Last Days of May“, beautifully sung by Venke.
The cover is by world-renowned photographer Bruno Dayan, otherwise known for his work for Louis Vuitton, Swarovsky and others.
A video teaser for the album can be viewed HERE.