Odelia: Songs for a Clownfish (The Gaia Project, 2006)
Hailing from sunny Southern California, Odelia is a band that has a unique sound. Their raw, home recording style is a breath of fresh air. Branching off the sound of bands such as Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Odelia create their own unique and explosive version of post-rock. Finding such a grand gem in the crowded Southern California music scene is wonderful. Odelia bursts through your speakers and catches your attention from the first note. Thriving on tempo changes, volume control, and walls of sound, this quartet may be the sleeper hit of 2006!
“Feet that Never Heal” is the first track on Songs for a Clownfish. It begins with angelic ambient textures and begins to flutter with glimmering guitars. This ambiance soothes the listener, enchants her and pulls her into the journey about to begin. Vocals come into the mix, adding a depth to the ambient music. Then, it ends and guitar-picking plays softly into the speakers until it builds into a more complex arrangement. “Four Feet of Snow” begins with mixtures of swirling keys and guitars on shinny ride that punctuates the layers. This bursts into trip-hop style drum work and an infectious bass line. The guitars fill the out the sound with glimmers and glitters of expressive guitar lines. The beauty of a white landscape, with rolling hills of snow, is communicated with breathtaking patience and complex arrangements. This leads into “Bicycle Prophet.” Drums burst into the speakers amidst layered guitars that roll, flow, and burst with volume. Eventually xylophone works its way in and the volume is reduced. The “Prophet” awaits his moment of connection with the other. The drums slowly build as the guitars urge them to explode, bidding, waiting. This translates into a languid bass line along with guitars and keys which lead the “Prophet” to his revelation. Quiet engulfs the speakers and vocals speak their prophetic trance, soothing the listener with hypnotic words that burst into aggressive drums and wild layers of guitars. The “prophet” speaks and all hell breaks loose.
“Under the Porchlight” slowly works its ways into the speakers with light, inviting guitars reminiscent of a child’s jewelry box. The patience contrasts with the “prophet’s” cry. This moment’s hush is perfectly timed, lulling the listener back into a soothing sense of reality. Keeping the tempo, toms lift the volume and guitars become more and more layered. The piece is patient and slow to build, providing the most unhurried feel. It is inviting and altogether perfect. Again, as the music tells the story and as the song winds down, the vocals come into play, just as languid and patient as the music. “2000 Miles of Locust” begins with medium paced drums and breezy guitars. Perhaps we have the “Bicycle Prophet’s” words coming true. Although this is so, the music is not foreboding, but rather it has a sense of awe and respect. Locusts, a sight that can evoke terror, in their immense swarms, bring to light the magnificence of nature as the music builds and communicates this awe. Haunting vocals fill the speakers on a shimmering blanket of guitars.
“Tanisha” has a backwards loop that has soaring guitars that fade into beautiful keys. Again, Odelia never rushes the song. They never disrespect their listener by rushing and underestimating the listeners need to be drawn in. Beautiful in their execution, the journey is worth ever note. Toms produce the heartbeat of the song while guitars move in and out the mix, playing off one another lightheartedly. Eventually, the quiet is broken and the guitars become aggressive and overpowering. This fades into low vocals that strain among the layers to be heard.
This fades into “He Knew Me when I Used to Fall Down.” Warbling into the speakers, the sound of refreshing rain seems to be mimicked and the slow movement of keys float in-between the cracks, filling out the sounds. Guitars peak into the motion of the keys and eventually take control as the guitars float over a sea of percussion. The music is spacious and complex all at the same time. “Jabari” starts with light guitars that begin slowly to be filled with layers of other guitars. This may be my favorite song on the disc. It remains light, airy and leaves the giant drums and bass out of the equation. Subtle in its execution, “Jabari” is beautiful and overwhelmingly penetrating. “12 Sleeping” is the end of the journey on Songs for a Clownfish. This tune begins with the marching of the drums and glimmering guitars. The guitar tones are beautiful and the lines infectious. The bass work on this track is exceptional. Eventually, layers of reverb come into the mix and the layers begin to build one upon the other. Playing on a theme that comes in shimmers and walls of sound, Odelia hypnotize the listener with their effective variations and patience as they build each part, modify it, and play with the volume. Eventually, they explode into brilliant, structured noise. Emotive and powerful, “12 Sleeping” not only ends the journey, but it pulls in and engulfs the listener.
Odelia’s third album is intricate, explosive, subtle, and well executed. I highly recommend this disc to our readers. The soundscapes are beautiful and the timing perfect. The Gaia Project has found another gem among the sea of bands.