The Opium Cartel is songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Jacob Holm-Lupo’s vehicle for songs that exist somewhere between sophisti-pop, art-rock and synth pop. Holm-Lupo is otherwise known for his progressive rock band White Willow and more recently his instrumental giallo-rock project Telepath.
The Opium Cartel’s 3rd album, Valor, is a record about naïve but brave dreams. These are songs about the hubris and optimism of childhood and youth. That period of life where everything seems sure to happen just the way you imagine: You will fall in love with the most beautiful girl in the world and she will love you back. You will become a pilot or an astronaut or defy gravity in some other way. You will explode into a world of color and wonder. You will never be disappointed or let down. You will take every risk without fear of failure.
These are also songs about that bittersweet moment when you start to realize that things may be a little different than you imagined. Not all things, but some.
Musically the album takes inspiration from a variety of predominantly 1980s sources, from The Blue Nile and Shriekback, via late Roxy Music to the prog-pop of 80s Alan Parsons Project and Camel. The period feel is amplified by Holm-Lupo’s use of exclusively hardware synthesizers iconic to the era, like the Oberheim Matrix-6 and Yamaha DX7.