Odawas – The Blue Depths

odawasRating: ★★★½☆

Odawas come to us from Berkely, California via the Midwest, which is definitely an attribute one can find on both ends of the spectrum when listening to their newest album, The Blue Depths, off JagJaguwar Records.

This an album of soundscapes, carefully sculpted with an artists touch, as the duo of Isaac Edwards and Michael Tapscott, pay attention to every inch of the recording process and the musical concept.  Clearly, this is an album where they sat down together, determined a common path they wished to depart upon, and decided to take us their with them.  Even the album artwork and the song titles illustrate a journey of sorts, for all those participating in the listening experience.  Titles like “Swan Song of the Humpback Angler” and “Moonlight/Twilight” clearly represent a canvas on which the band can paint.

Oddly, they choose to do a lot of the percussive work with a twinge of eighties pop keyboard elements.  The backing sounds are remarkably similar to every soundtrack you would hear in the pop-culture movies of the eighties.  Still, it keeps some of the more brooding moments rising above the seemingly somber moments that exist throughout. And yet the band push on with their sound, carefully filling every single inch of space with some form of instrumentation, be it harmonica, string arrangement or vocal melody; they don’t leave a single musical stone unturned here.

Vocals all over the album are a little bit in the vein of something we would have seen with Jason Lytle, just a whole lot gentler, as if the Californian has been sampled, slowing his voice down to a whispering tone.  It’s a trait that allows for the band to put the music on the forefront, with the vocals remaining just an extra instrument for them to utilize in the ultimate construction of this album.  This being the case, its hard to take a lot of quality understanding from the vocals in the realm of lyrics, but that probably isn’t the point at all.  They want you to be drawn in, pulling your ears closer to the speakers as you fight to take meaning from their compositions.

In the end, this is the seeming purpose behind this release, as it surely is a moment of pure mood music.  This isn’t to suggest that you need to be in a certain mood to grasp the record; this is by no means the purpose of that statement.  The purpose of making a blanket statement such as that means that while listening to this album in its entirety, as you should do with all albums, you will find that your mood has been altered.  This is precisely what Odawas wants of you, they want you to immerse yourself in their wonderful world of space and sound.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/02-swan-song-of-the-humpback-angler.mp3]

Download: Odawas – Swan Song of the Humpback Angler [MP3]

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