By Ashley Zimmerman
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The two finally met in person in 2004, when Schoolwerth threw a Wierd party in Miami. They have, in Schoolwerth's words, been close allies ever since. Wierd has released tracks from each of Oni's and Jeancarlo's various projects (save for Fioritura) on label compilations and handled distribution for Opus Finis' debut album, Pursue the Tragic Tune, late last year.
Clocking in at more than 76 minutes, by design, the full-length is virtually indistinguishable from the Opus Finis live experience. Just as with a typical performance, all material was written on the spot and recorded live, with no preprogrammed backing tracks. The grainy quality of the recording, the distant, echoing vocals, and loose strands of ambient noise lend the album a spontaneous, organic feel, unusual for music emanating from electronic equipment.
One might easily mistake Tune for a live bootleg as opposed to an album proper, which is something its creators are well aware of and welcome. "[Listeners] may find it muffled or not as crisp," says Oni. "But [to me], it sounds so warm, so deep compared to today's laptop sound."
Schoolwerth not only prefers the primitive, analog sound of Tune but sees it as an absolutely essential form of protest. In a 2008 essay titled "The Analogue Synthesizer as a Folk Instrument of Humanist Resistance," he contends that the analog synth should be viewed as a vital vestige of humanity in a world in which computers themselves have become the de facto creative force. In the process, he also underscores an odd paradox about the electronic music released by his label.
"The frailty of these [analog] machines, the near-impossibility of ever creating the same sound twice, and the risk that at any moment everything may come undone reflects the inherent humanity that pilots them," he writes in the essay. "An irony becomes apparent: that the very electric current which powers the abstracting technologies of our day also has the potential to defy abstraction."
The irony is not lost on Opus Finis, whose very name roughly translates to "completed work." Like the South Florida weather, the lone constant for its music is its perpetual state of flux.
To receive updates on Opus Finis' live performances and Jeancarlo's DJ nights, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
South Florida Minimal Electronics 101
Staccato du Mal
Ramiro Jeancarlo's solo venture is easily the densest and most cinematic of the current South Florida projects—and the most influenced by his classical sensibilities. Listen to enough of these entrancing, labyrinthine songs and you may start to buy Pieter Schoolwerth's contention that Jeancarlo "makes some of the most finely crafted and incredibly complex minimal electronic compositions in the world right now."
The Siamese Pearl
Mostly forsaking the analog synth, the Siamese Pearl allows Carlos Oni to indulge his abrasive, experimental impulses. He mixes sound collages, field recordings, and tape loops to approximate a primordial form of industrial music. And unlike the spontaneous creativity of Opus Finis, Oni describes his side project as "very premeditated."
Flesh Graey Display
Sean 8* was a member of the earliest incarnation of Opus Finis, and in some ways, with Jeancarlo providing the musical backing, Flesh is simply the flip side of the same coin. But where Oni applies blunt force, Sean 8* prefers a more subdued, considered approach. Flesh still gets under the skin without being as purposefully antagonistic as Opus Finis.
Some might call it simple, others stripped down. Either way, Ronin is nothing if not direct. And directness has its benefits: Tracks like "In the Provisions" and "Black Bird Watch" are probably as explicitly pop and danceable as minimal electronics get. It's the perfect soundtrack for a night out or sitting in your room thinking about one.