Eric Prydz will go certainly go down as one of the most prolific producers of electronic music history. The Swedish powerhouse constantly teases new IDs and unreleased remixes during his live sets, which have become known as some of the greatest in live music. Over the past few years, since releasing the album Eric Prydz Presents Pryda under his Pryda alias, many fans wondered if Prydz would ever release the numerous unreleased tracks growing under his primary alias. Then, in 2015, the floodgates were opened.
Prydz satiated fans with three Pryda EPs, and then topped it off by announcing his debut artist album, titled Opus (*nudge**nudge**wink**wink*) under the “Eric Prydz” moniker; about time. Never one to release just a few tracks with a package (the Pryda album spanned three discs), the producer revealed the tracklist and run-time, which amounted to a whopping 19 tracks and over 2 hours of material. Prydz finally released the album today, February 5, under Virgin Records, and we can safely say the album will strike a chord with hardcore fans and casual listeners alike.
Despite its staggering length, Opus never gets bogged down in filler. It’s a rare accomplishment for an album this size, but Prydz clearly put plenty of thought and energy into crafting his debut album. Many of the tracks have been heard before, notably singles “Generate,” “Liberate,” and the three-year-old “Every Day” (why did he include this?), but new songs do stick out upon the first few listens.
As expected, the album represents pure progressive house, complete with uplifting build-ups, the unforgettable Pryda snares (still welcome even though bigroom house nearly ruined them), and masterfully mixed synths. The songs all under operate under Prydz’s adept vision of taking the listener on a musical journey, although the tracklist makes the album feel more like a collection of songs rather than a fully-realized concept. Still, Opus exudes a signature style, and such consistent theme is an almost unheard of trait among electronic music albums these days.
Much of the tracks stick to pure instrumentals, but a few vocal collaborations do sneak their way in to the mix. Prydz noticeably drops the tempo and energy for some of these tracks, almost turning into a record producer from the 1980s. This becomes especially apparent on tracks like the Rob Swire-backed “Breathe” and “Moody Mondays,” which features a slightly out-of-place spot from The Cut. The other vocal tracks like “Generate” work wonders, but they feel a bit worn-in now that they’ve been released many months before the album’s release.
In terms of sound design, Opus is unparalleled. Prydz put much care into making these tracks sound as immaculate as possible, and we applaud how well the album sounds through a variety of speakers. Given that Prydz dedicates himself to producing so many tracks, it’s a natural next-step for him to refine each track to such flawless levels. Listening to Prydz’s music is an emotional experience, and the fact that he presents his vision in such a strong fashion only cements his ability to produce.
The meat of Opus comes from its tracks already released, even the track “Last Dragon” that only released a few days ago. Despite the songs’ perfect-sounding qualities, many of them get lost in the shuffle due to a lack of defining elements. Tracks like “Opus” and “Sunset at Café Mambo” differ hugely in energy levels, but they represent some of the album’s best work. When Prydz attempts to explore the middle route, such as in songs like “Black Dyce,” he loses connection with the listener and ironically becomes a bit of a middle ground progressive producer. Luckily these weaker tracks only weigh the album down a little bit, and the highs reach very tall peaks.
Prydz, more than anything, is perhaps known best for his incredible live performances, and it’s best to separate that image when listening to Opus. Unlike his 2-hour sets filled with relentless precision, Opus takes its time to explore new sides to the producer. Some experiments work, some don’t, but ultimately Prydz creates a satisfying album with Opus. If he somehow managed to translate his live show proficiency to the album format, perhaps his next effort would launch him to an even greater stage of his career.