ODESZA’s creations are what space would sound like if sound could travel in interplanetary emptiness. Through A Moment Apart, Seattle duo Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight’s spiky, otherworldly, chill planetary fuzz spins a fresh take on mainstream electronica’s comparatively boring, bass powered bumps.
For a heavily electronic album, A Moment Apart does a good job of balancing vocal and purely instrumental tracks. What’s more, the album has great variety in its soundscape, ranging from the soaring, powerful titular track, to the easy-going “Across the Room.”
Just like in 2012’s Summer’s Gone, A Moment Apart opens with an “Intro,” a whispered clip of narration that sets the theme for the rest of the album. Where 2012’s “Intro” was more of an introduction to electronic music as a whole, 2017’s “Intro” is actually an excerpt from 2011 film “Another Earth,” where one character tells another a story about a cosmonaut falling in love with sound, introducing an attempted metaphor for the listener’s experience with the album. As the dialogue fades away, “Intro” fades into “A Moment Apart,” immediately establishing the high energy and evocative spirit the album runs on right off the bat.
“Late Night” captures the essence of breathless midnight drives down city streets, complete with the jingle of car keys at the very beginning and a striking, catchy beat that evolves into glittering chords as the instrumentals pick up. When listening to the vivid chorus, I could practically see neon lights reflecting off shiny car paint. “La Ciudad” has a similarly bright, exciting sound, with the same air of nighttime adventures and unforgettable experiences. The difference between ODESZA’s music and EDM is especially apparent here. EDM is wild, but almost violently so, and even though “Late Night” and “La Ciudad” both have climactic moments, they also have softer, tenderer lulls. Ultimately, the two types differ greatly in tone and overall song structure from party music.
While Regina Spektor usually sticks to more traditional instrumental accompaniments like classical piano and guitar, “Just a Memory” melds her captivatingly smooth vocals with ODESZA’s full bodied, dramatic electronics. The song follows someone pining for a former lover: “I want you back / In the middle of this fight / Baby come back and fight,” Spektor croons. The track is one of A Moment Apart’s more mellow compositions, and has the same bittersweet emotion as “Kusanagi” from 2014’s In Return.
“Thin Floors and Tall Ceilings” calls to mind acres and acres of free, unbounded sound. The first ten seconds of the track are reminiscent of summer nights spent stargazing, and the piece develops like a trip through time.
“Corners of the Earth” hits the sweet spot for a closing track; it’s slow and measured enough to feel like a proper wrap up to the album, but still emotive and memorable as a standout song all by itself. Australian singer RY X’s voice is deep and rich as he sings: “Tonight we run / We run into the sun / We run into the corners of / The love we choose to make.”
Altogether, the album builds upon the undeniable strength and breadth of ODESZA’s discography while still introducing new folds. It’s important to note how universal the group’s music is; whether a listener is completely new to the world of electronica or a seasoned expert, there’s bound to be something that satisfies any itch. ODESZA may be one of electronica’s more seasoned artists, but that doesn’t mean their music is stale or without merit, even given the often negative connotations surrounding that genre and its cousins. A Moment Apart shows that the duo is far from running out of unique ideas.