“A Moment Apart”; An In Depth Look At Odesza’s Most Ambitious Project
Featured Image: Lexy Galvis
When ODESZA’s tunes first permeated the indie-electro realm five years ago— with their very first studio album Summer’s Gone— the seminal non-conformers’ tunes signified the marrying of two genres, an ominous union that had yet seen the light of day. Summer’s Gone and its standout tracks like “IPlayYouListen” and “How Did I Get Here,” fused together both intelligently crafted and emotionally in-tune instrumentals, albeit with the sometimes aggressive melodies to match. It was with no surprise their body of work snowballed into a cult-like following.
Now today, it is with the same fusion of Harrison Mills’ and Clayton Knight’s indie Seattle roots, playful production style, and vocals that seem to always go above and beyond, that the two expand the framework for a genre that had not yet existed before their emergence. And it is with expanding this framework, an act that birthed the duo in the first place, that ODESZA introduces their third studio album A Moment Apart. -Grace Fleisher
Members of The Sights and Sounds crew— Alyssa Durant, Grace Fleisher, Lexy Galvis, and Christopher Höglund, respectively— have analyzed the new sonically expanse body of work, offered their opinions, and hinted at what this record means for ODESZA in the years to come.
Alyssa: I think the choice of an outside audio clip is a way to channel and reflect the duo’s intentions. Also, in this case it sets the theme for the following tracks. The quick opening kicks off the album with celestial sounds that stay present from open to close of A Moment Apart.
Chris: Another Earth happens to be one of my favorite films (if you haven’t seen it, check it out). I’m getting goosebumps hearing this intro. This idea of sound as a cure for insanity, as described in the story of the Russian cosmonaut, is a great intro for such a long awaited album.
A Moment Apart
Alyssa: The title track is flawless. I love how the breathing from Intro continues going right into this without skipping a beat
Grace: Although it’s been played out in ODESZA’s sets since the early spring, “A Moment Apart” doesn’t reach its full introspective impact until it’s proceeded by their new body of work. The cinematic track serves as a launching pad for an instrumental album that only continues to delve deeper as it’s explored. Think of the title track as the foreword of the record, much like authors decide to preface their words, ODESZA’s giving their listeners a textured sample of what to expect on the remainder of the album.
Higher Ground (feat. Naomi Wild)
Grace: There are three elements that lie within ODESZA’s music that contribute to them being outliers amongst their electronic contemporaries.
The synthesis of their Seattle indie-folk roots via soaring electronic synths is always met with equally charged earworm-worthy melodies— which alone has come to define the duo—but their tunes are always saturated in stunning vocals, and at last, a willingness to experiment with these elements. “Higher Ground” is the paragon of these elements, and it soars. Its placement as the third track on the album is an interesting choice that makes a lot of sense, considering of all their tracks to experiment, it does so the least. Choosing to foreword the more experimental tracks like “Late Night,” or “Across The Room,” with “Higher Ground” places a sonic timeline, of sorts, in the record. (A, hey this is where we were before, look what we’re capable of today.) Nonetheless, it’s a testament to a style the duo has mastered, and a pleasant track in its own right.
Alyssa: My boyfriend produces music and he made a song with Naomi Wild a couple years ago. She used to live in Santa Barbara—just like we do. With a voice as strong as hers, the feature on this album was well-deserved. “Higher Ground” has me dancing in my seat, and so far, A Moment Apart is three for three in my book.
Chris: Listening to this song makes me feel like I’m in a spaceship taking off, which makes sense given the themes introduced in “Intro”- this song definitely sounds more typical of ODESZA‘s past works- with its chopped, unintelligible vocals; the dramatic, all encompassing sound, and ultra pronounced percussions.
Lexy: When I saw ODESZA at Electric Forest this year and heard “Boy” live, I became so passionately in love with their sound and have been anticipating this album since. Boy encompasses all that ODESZA is.
Line Of Sight (feat WYNNE & Mansionair)
Chris: It’s no secret that this is not my favorite track on the record- perhaps because it was the first single they released back in April. I was worried the whole album would sound like this, which I now know isn’t true. This is a very simplistic, pop/electronic track. It’s well produced and certainly has mainstream appeal- which makes sense for the first single. It’s actually grown on me, in all fairness.
Grace: When ODESZA released “Line Of Sight” in April, some fans were less than thrilled, and understandably so. The sonic crusade that had defined the group seemed to have been abandoned, and in an age with increasingly similar tunes, its release may have been an alarming sign of compromise to the dedicated ODESZA fan. However, “Line Of Sight’s” release serves a critical purpose in the context of the entire new body of work. Of course the two’s later release “Late Night” prior to the album release diminished the concern for ODESZA fans, but it’s only with A Moment Apart’s arrival that fans can gain a complete understanding of how much a “Line of Sight” is a glimpse into what ODESZA’s third studio album could have been.
A Moment Apart in its entirety is a stylistic defining moment for the duo, but it didn’t have to be. ODESZA created “Line of Sight”, in an attempt to reach an audience they had yet to, in hopes, turning them on to the two’s most sonically expanse album to date. It’s with this song, and its simplistic pop-reminiscent formula in mind— in relation to the remainder of the album— that ODESZA‘s new work reigns supreme.
Lexy: The sound of the car turning on at the beginning couldn’t be more perfect for “Late Night”. This song definitely has a road trip feel to it, and we especially see that in their music video.
Chris: “Late Night” remains one of my favorite tracks from this project, especially now in the context of the record as a whole. The hard driving bass, the soaring guitar, the euphoric synths, the live quality it has- all key components of a great ODESZA song.
Across The Room (feat. Leon Bridges)
Chris: I’ll take “Unexpected Collaborations” for 100, Alex. What I’m realizing from the features on this album is that ODESZA seems to have really given their collaborators the freedom to make these track their own. I’ve been a huge fan of Leon Bridges for a few years, and I’m glad that this track puts his talent in the spotlight. I don’t know that I would recognize this as an ODESZA track if I just heard it on the radio.
Grace: It may be too much of a stretch to say ODESZA did the unthinkable when they enlisted the daddy of modern soul for their record. Leon Bridges, for those not familiar, was an integral piece of the superb soundtrack for America’s beloved murder-mystery and superficial California mom’s show—with incredible musical supervision— Big Little Lies. The show came out in April on HBO and included several tunes off Bridges’ 2015 record Coming Home. Soon enough he was everywhere. Bridges’ soaring tracks dictate a moment that resonates with millennials. It’s with Bridges’ impact and sonic beauty in mind that we arrive at he and ODESZA’s collaboration.
“Across The Room” is a sweet take on fleeting pursuits, the impact that one’s actions can have on another, how every relationship romantically pursued, fleeting or otherwise, contributes to the exploration of the inner self. “We’ve been going’ for about two hours and I don’t even know your name/ So baby please reveal, reveal/ Your friends are calling’ you baby stay with me instead”
Lexy: “Meridian” has this tribal feel to it and makes me feel more connected to this earth. I enjoy the song as a whole, but I’m actually more of a fan of everything surrounding the “drop”.
Alyssa: The definition of meridian is the hypothetical astronomical circle connecting the earth’s north and south poles. With that in mind, this song to me represents balance and universal connection. I felt grounded while swaying to the beat of “Meridian”.
Everything at Your Feet (The Chamanas)
Chris: While this seems to be one of the more laid back tracks on the record, that lone horn leaves a lot of room for an insane live edit. I’ll definitely be looking forward to seeing this performed on tour.
Lexy: Ahh, the soothing horns. “Everything at Your Feet” is refreshing and simplistic. When the Spanish vocals came in, I was taken by surprise. I’m Colombian, so hearing these vocals made my heart very happy.
Just a Memory (feat. Regina Spektor)
Grace: Prior to the new record’s release, ODESZA sat down with Dancing Astronaut to discuss the evolution of the duo and their experimentation on A Moment Apart.
When discussing the Regina Spektor track ODESZA revealed some chilling details. After requesting a vocal contribution on a whim, the two had actually been invited by Spektor to listen to the vocals she created for the track in her hotel room in Seattle.
“We actually went back to the instrumental and kind of stripped it down even more to try to really capture the vibe that she had done in that hotel room. We wanted the instrumentals in the background and her vocals right up front so we really tried to capture that intimate setting with that song as much as possible,” they revealed.
The end product is exactly what the two had hoped to capture. It’s intimate, perhaps a little haunting, but it certainly is ODESZA working outside of their previous sonic space. But that seems to be the point. ODESZA’s production professionalism is put on full display. “I don’t do the things I used to do/ I don’t drink the way I used to/ All your advice, I finally took it/ But you’re not around to see me do it/ But I want you back/ In the middle of the night,” are some of the words Spektor sings on the track. This track is a deeply emotive epic and it’s deliverance wouldn’t be the same with hyped-up instrumentals throughout.
Divide (feat Kelsey Bulkin)
Lexy: “Divide” is one of my favorite tracks on the album. It hits me in all the right places. It’s the perfect balance between the vocals and instrumental parts. This was another song I heard live that restored my faith in their album, and I’m so happy it’s finally here.
Alyssa: I’m ready to make “Divide” the soundtrack to the next coming months of my life. These lyrics feel genuine, pressing listeners not to play down nor fake their spirituality. The whimsical tune makes me smile and reminds me of the way I was so taken emotionally by In Return. ODESZA is back, and honestly better than ever.
Thin Floors and Tall Ceilings
Lexy: In my opinion, “Thin Floors and Tall Ceilings” is the most beautiful track on the album. The song carries ODESZA’s traditional sound, but it’s even more empowering and more liberating. I feel such a release. It’s the perfect length, too. Short enough to where it doesn’t lose its powerfulness.
Chris: I think this is my favorite of the 10 tracks that were introduced today. I love the “Stomp” esque- percussion, it’s harmonic, cinematic buildup- this song has a lot going on, but it sounds so organic. It’s the longest track on the album, it develops in front of you, expanding and compounding its components until it becomes cohesive, ending with quaking percussion. If I were in charge, this would be the closing track. This is definitely one that I expect to have a huge live sound.
Lexy: After an emotional 3 minutes with “Thin Floors and Tall Ceilings”, “La Cuidad” brings me right back into a groove…and then takes me on an entirely different journey. I go through a lot of different feelings yet the song remains cohesive. “La Cuidad” is a good representation of ODESZA’s dynamic range.
Falls (feat. Sasha Sloan)
Chris: I truly wish that this song didn’t come right after “La Ciudad”- this is probably my least favorite track on the record, I think it’s lyrically uninteresting. It’s got that “everything will be okay” ,“empowerment lite” message that I find to be really cliche, which would be okay if the instrumentation was more interesting , but after the explosion of sounds that is “La Ciudad”, this falls flat.
Lexy: At the start of the album, I was hesitant when it came to ODESZA’s tracks that immediately began with vocals. However, after liking most of them, I entered “Falls” with an open mind. Turns out, I really like this one. Though the lyrics may be cliche, they are true and empowering.
Chris: At this point, I start to lose touch with A Moment Apart. While pleasant, this seems less stylistically distinguished than a lot of the other tracks on the record. The vocal sample seems to invoke a sort of ephemeral “Bollywood” aesthetic that can be found on labelmate Jai Wolf’s “Indian Summer”. I think attempting to utilize those sounds without any cultural context has become a sort of trope in Electronic Music that I’m not totally sold on.
Alyssa: I can envision myself flowing through yoga poses to this song. It’s light and soothing. It reminds me of Tycho a little in the sense that I can vibe out and clear out any clutter to my brain without feeling the need to break out in dance nor analyze lyrics.
Corners Of The Earth (feat. RY X)
Alyssa: RY X did a sunrise set at Lightning in a Bottle this year so, to me, this song symbolizes just that. Literally and figuratively. In my mind, I can visualize the eastern horizon introducing the light of day, with this song serenading the early-risers’ morning rituals. Every inhabitant of our planet gets a fresh daily start when the sun comes up. “Corners Of The Earth” represents the beauty in endings and the forever promise of a new beginning.