CD, Tympanik Audio, 2009
Eelco Jellema, AKA Opposite Exhale, presents, in the form of “Nothing Lasts” an album with one very distinct message: “I am very, very clever.”
In spite of the unique sounds he manages to bring to his audience (best described as a chaotic, yet highly ordered fusion of contemporary classical and experimental electronica) and the absolute mastery of his medium displayed by the careful balance of diametrically opposed opposites (which are displayed in their awesome majesty on “Clear Green”, my personal highlight on the album), you can’t help but feel a tad cynical. It’s as if Mr Jellema is laughing at you, calling attention to all your shortcomings, spotlighted in horrific, baroque chiaroscuro by the amazing attention to detail he’s put into crafting “Nothing Lasts”. I honestly find it difficult to place when last I encountered contemporary music that the composer has put so much effort into, but I also find it difficult to enjoy the result.
Opposite Exhale is the musical equivalent of the straight-A student, captain of all the important teams, star of the drama department, always seen with the most beautiful kids hanging on their every word, good-looking and genuinely likeable person that you nevertheless want to beat to a bloody pulp because everything they have seems to have come to them so effortlessly.
Or possibly, their identical, sociopathic twin… because that pinnacle of the social dream described above is clearly not evidenced by the moods generated on “Nothing Lasts”. “The Downfall of Beliefs” and “Born with Bruises”, in particular hint at some hugely disturbing events with their off-kilter, dirty oscillating atmospheres and sampled lullaby usage, respectively. Even though its title suggests a necessary, and often beautiful, step in realising the relationship between your higher and corporeal selves, “Lucid Dreaming” walks the listener through truly nightmarish landscapes.
So yes, Opposite Exhale is an incredible achievement and a skilful blending of piano, strings and electronics, as well as a selection of really beautiful music. But it is also bleak, desolate and not at all recommended for anyone who quails at the concept of intelligence behind music.
— David van der Merwe