Album Review: A Moment Apart – ODESZA

As a departure from their groundbreaking release In Return, electronic music duo ODESZA is back with an ethereal experience that transports you into the depths of space. Similar to EDM juggernauts The Glitch Mob and Pretty Lights, the Seattle-based group spearheaded a unique blend of acoustic instrumentation and future bass sounds called indietronica. Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight brings this genre to life in their concert performances, adding a brass section that belts out melodies and drumline percussion that lifts the song into another dimension. This rising act is breaking the mold and shattering expectations at their live shows. The word unfathomable may not even cover how two bedroom producers from Western Washington University changed the landscape of music in 2012.

Serving as a precursor to the future bass movement, their debut EP and album introduced their diversified approach in production. Eventually, the duo’s synth-infused style became a well-sought after sound and established themselves as remix aficionados in their own right. As a personal favorite, Porter Robinson recruited ODESZA for a hard-hitting remix of “Divinity” that exemplifies their iconic sound. As for original production, ODESZA has matured in each successive project by elevating their production value and explores different soundscapes in A Moment Apart.

The introduction and title tracks serve as a launch pad that prepares the listener for an aural journey into the cosmos. In the initial moments of “A Moment Apart”, a steady metronome sound is introduced and may very well be analogous to a space shuttle countdown. As the song reaches the drop, a vocal sample is interwoven in a lush backdrop of strings, synths, bass, and drums. The sudden bombardment of scintillating sounds transfers the listener into momentary bliss, an experience that is enhanced with closed eyes and a clear mind. As reverbed piano is laced with harp in the background, stars, planets, and everything in between seems within reach. Although the universe is vast, this four-minute rendition takes listeners into the Milky Way and beyond from start to finish. The song ends on a hopeful note with a triumphant blast of strings and brass that fades into dissonant notes. Sonically, the thematic approach in production creates a music palette that sets the tone for the rest of A Moment Apart.

Similar to future bass influences from previous work, “Line of Sight” gets a visual treatment in the form a child befriending a robot in the midst of dystopia. Although the robot disintegrates in the end, the child finds peace in observing the scenery around him. The song itself showcases lead singer WYNNE and background vocalist Mansionair with their uplifting vocals throughout the track. As the track’s prominent feature, gritty textures in a synth-infused beat contrasts WYNEE’s breathtaking tone in cohesive fashion. Lauded for their atmospheric production, ODESZA captures the very essence of the song’s subject matter—a search for assistance and healing in a toxic situation. Compared to In Return, the electronic music duo grew in their songwriting ability and forces listeners to pay attention to the lyrics in A Moment Apart. 

As for the rest of the album, “Late Night” is a clear indication of creative ambition with its fusion of 80s synthwave and funk rock production. Although the track seems simplistic, a combination of electric guitar, bass, acoustic drums, a high-pitched vocal sample, and a sprinkle of synths are meshed together effortlessly. In the same vein, “Just A Memory” strips down instrumentation to place emphasis on Regina Spektor‘s voice. Her talent lends itself in a blissful marriage between soft tones and a soothing background. As the song builds to the outro, her emotion is highlighted in a tonal shift of a call-and-response chorus. However, the duo diversifies their repertoire by adding a soulful sample and Spanish vocals in “Across the Room” and “Everything At Your Feet” respectively.  The album ends on a high note with a showcase of ODESZA’s grandiose production in “Corners of the Earth”, reminding listeners that their cosmic journey has come to a close.

Although ODESZA makes the shortlist of top EDM producers, the evolution of the musical duo does not come without any criticism. Although each track sounds impeccable on their own, some tracks do not fit the album’s theme and feel out of place. For example, “La Ciudad” introduces listeners to flamenco-influenced production with castanets interlaced within the beat. Although this style does not fit the album’s theme, the duo’s undaunted approach in production differentiates themselves from the fray. Based on the instrumentation alone, ODESZA cemented themselves as versatile musicians in the world of diluted electronic sounds. Be sure to check out ODESZA on their world tour and listen to their latest album below:

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