Coming on the heels of September’s My Friends Never Die EP and its subsequent remixes, Seattle duo ODESZA (Harrison Mills aka Catacombkid and Clayton Knight aka BeachesBeaches) have curated NO.SLEEP Mix.01, the first in what is to be a series of mix tapes. The group has a penchant for sun-drenched harmony and music that feels less like melodic-based music than it does a three-dimensional immersive environment, a surround-sound experience of lush bass hums and trilling melodies that shimmer like wind chimes over a beat. Those familiar with ODESZA’s work won’t be surprised to hear that NO SLEEP, released November 20th, delivers an array of songs featuring warm vocal harmonies and re-assuringly upbeat bass lines.
Tracks wind together and morph into each other. The group maintains a more or less even tempo throughout this album–danceable, but not frantic, with ample space given for each beat to expand to its full reverberation–and strike a balance between catchiness and intimacy. KAASI & TÂCHES’S onomatopoetic “Heartbeats” features broken vocals and a pulse of beat that you can feel almost physically (and would feel literally physically, if you were hearing the track performed live). Catchy, often R&B-based vocal hooks mark the movement from track to track, punctuating a low-key bottom line groove common to nearly every song. Voices are commonly left undoctored, their organic warmth accentuated by a surreal, heavily re-mixed backdrop. This is especially effective on Laura Mvula’s “She (Eagles For Hands Remix),” a quietly powerful number with heavy soul influences.
The tracks “Not Giving In” by Rudimental and “Two Dots” by Lusine, two songs so complementary that, after having heard the mix tape, it would be difficult to talk about them separately, stood out on this album. Two experiments in simplicity–individual expressions, but integral to one another. A single act of setting a melody in motion and watching it cause a chain reaction, making harmonies with itself and generating a momentum that carries one song into another.
The juxtaposition between raw and artificial–the evocation of a single motif, coming from two different angles and several different artists, comprised the theme of this mixtape. Aided by the collection’s pondering aesthetics, NO.SLEEP explores the tensions within the songs to their fullest extent.
Listen to ODESZA’S “My Friends Never Die (Little People Remix),” their contribution to the NO.SLEEP mix, via Soundcloud:
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