Artist: Odessey And Oracle
Title: Odessey And Oracle And The Casiotone Orchestra
Label: Folkwit Records
Keywords: Alternative, Alt Folk, Baroque Pop, Experimental, Indie Pop, Lo-fi
Reviewer: Alex Spalding
So, there’s this weird thing I need to tell you. I hope you won’t be upset. It’s like… one of those deep, dark secret kind of things, a skeleton type thing in a closet sort of thing. You see… sometimes, when I’m all alone, I’ll listen to this stuff called “music”… and, then, I’ll get on the internet, and… yeah… by the look I’m imagining on your face right now, dear reader, I think you’ve already figured out where this is going. Yes… yes, that’s right… I type out all these words about what I was listening to, my feelings and stuff, and, then, disgustingly… I publish them all on a website. Not just any website… but, this very website you’re on right now.
Yes, I’m feeling quite sorry you’ve been beached upon this destitute shore after days of websurfing, only to now stare at the beardly, sand-ravaged visage of a madman music journo guy as he confesses these horrible truths to you.
I really hope this doesn’t change how you feel about me, though. I clearly need help… but, at this time, I can feel the beast taking over again… please, reader… run, while you still can… before I think of textual ways to convey my squishy metamorphosis into some crazed monster driven by the compulsion of sucky music journalism… ugh glug… it’s too late… bwarf… flop plopp… blurble… gloop gloop! Gwuurgggg… !!! …
… yep. It’s done. Still here? Good.
My norm outfit from before lays shredded all over the floor and now I am clothed only in the underpants of music criticism, which can only mean it’s time to review another album! This one’s by Odessey and Oracle, and I think you’ll love it. You’ll love it so much you’ll want to get your freak on with it, write it cheesy love notes, buy it smelly red flowers, stuff like that. Here’s a wink emoticon to establish the kind of nudgingly familial receptivity about sound I like to assume we share together: 😉
The artists’ bandcamp page is chock full of pr about the music project and it’s inspirations, it’s accomplished musical infatuations, the vibe, the genres, the personalities involved. As per our usual style around here, inimical to the time-honored tradition of music journalists sheepishly copy/pasting pre-fab observations written by press agents with carrots on sticks, I just ignored it all and decided to do my own thing. It’s such toil, but hopefully will get us somewhere strange and beautiful by the end.
Now that I’ve got my expectations rounded to zero, I think it’s time we pressed play together and dug in. We’ve gotta time this right, so I’ll count down from three.
-1… ah, you hit play already… oh well, I guess it doesn’t matter.
The first track on this thing is called ‘2016’. Right away, before I even open my ears, I’m thinking to myself… will this sound like 2016? I’ve gotta know. I wish our time travel robot hadn’t exploded, otherwise I’d go check. Listening, I hear a bit of lo-fi synth bass and some bells. The vocals come in, as well as what is possibly a uke or banjo or similarly tiny stringed instrument. What first makes a huge impression are the choir of flutes, and then these very sweet synth arrangements! This is very nice, and harmonically unique. Singy song of light and magic, super enjoyable. It’s like listening to Belle & Sebastian wrapped up with Mort Garson. Something about it makes me feel like I’m Nemo flying through night skies on a four-post bed above a world made of candy.
‘Invention #1’ is next, and right away I’m loving the nice guitar sounds. This is something I’d want to listen to beneath a tree to distract my attention from reading a novel. It doesn’t go too long, before…
… we come to the beautifully composed ‘The Unicorn’, which is a bit more melancholic than the subject matter might suggest. I worry about the titular unicorn, sensing trouble is on its way. Instead, we come to a bright, sunny courtyard of jaunty synths and flutes and tambourine elves. I really enjoy the vocals on this Medieval synth folk piece. Cello enters, and things go dark for a bit… but, it’s ok, this music is fantastic!
Vinyl crackles greet us at the start of ‘Invention #2’, and there are so many great sounds. Flutes, bells, strings…
… then some banjo and mouthy synth on ‘Esprit Du Ciel’, which is a really nice piece of music as well. There’s a bongo breakdown that makes you want to circle dance. Solemn string section, almost funereal, as the chords descend… wow, I can’t tell you how intensely the mood of these pieces change, in this way that flows so smoothly. We’re dancing again, at the end!
‘Invention #3’ is another fine product of genius. Vocal puff synths play over a bassline with whispers of white noise. It’s simply a majestic piece of music.
After that is ‘The Cat With Lipstick’, which I love. The world needs more music like this, I’m moved by it a lot right now, especially given the bizarre lyrics. I feel like all I can do is just sit and listen, to all of the beautiful chord changes, melodies, sounds… such great sounds.
Before I blow away, the next piece comes on, ‘Invention #4’, which features a lovely, harmonic electric piano.
Wonderful, also, is ‘Alphabet’! Toy box bells, simple vocals, bass guitar, acoustic guitar strums, reversed sounds in the mix, reminiscent a bit of AIR in a way, not to diminish the excellence of this whole album and these artists with so many of my comparisons. Short breaths blow over flutes.
I hear strings play on ‘Invention #5’… I imagine this invention’s meant to do something… but, I do not know what.
The beginning of ‘I Saw My Mother’ sounds like an array of sound chip arpeggios! Then there is a fuzzy guitar… underneath it all in the mix, a slow, psychedelic rhythm. This track is fun. The arrangements, like so often so far, cause me to just want to lay back and soak it all in, let all of the sounds scoop me up and fly me off to a place far away from things like internets.
‘Invention #6’ is a dark, stringly invention, a bit morose, and beautiful. And, like the other inventions, it is very short.
High pitched strings sing to me on ‘Fixing The World’. The vocals are lovely, there are trumpets, varied stringed instruments. I love the section with the shakers and kind of a groove happening, it’s like a big bright blue sky filled with clouds. I wish the lyrics were available on the bandcamp page… I haven’t, for the most part, been listening closely to the vocals because I’m usually so intently focused on the sound of everything happening, but I get this frequent sense of the lyrics playing with a sort of sardonic naivety.
I really love the sounds happening on ‘Invention #7’. Sweet synth horns, matched later by guitars… this album is a masterpiece.
‘Night Of The Tacky Toys’ is great… just perfect. It’s a sad toy story. Suddenly, an explosion of organ and electric guitar! I can’t get over the unique and beautiful sound arrangements, and the playfulness, constant fun chord changes.
I’m hearing some amazing sounds on one of the best inventions on the album yet, ‘Invention #8’, a composite of shimmering synth chip sounds and dense lo-tech electro drums with intense modulations. It’s like… yeah!!!
Last piece on the album now… kind of sad to see it end, but this one’s called ‘V.I.A.G.R.A.’ and it’s quite a bit different. It’s an amazing, progressive electro pop track with soaring synth sequences and heavy bass kick pops, lovely synth string chords stabbing in. Mostly, it’s just a fun piece of music.
Well… now it’s all over, and I imagine it won’t be long before I mutate back into a norm once again, at which point I’ll have to glue my clothes back on and find something else to do for a bit. My final word on this album is that it’s one you’ll really need to listen to. It’s amazing, very well produced, fun, and really… it’s beautiful, you must hear it…
… uh… oh no… glubbb… plowp plobble ploop… fwhak grhshlop…
… ew. Yeah, I guess I’m back to normal. Here’s a link to the music: