It starts with silence.
Then, over a single, constant note, a voice murmurs, “You know that story of the Russian cosmonaut?”
It’s a sample from 2011 sci-fi film Another Earth, but it feels as though Brit Marling’s character is speaking directly to the listener.
While in space, the cosmonaut hears a constant ticking noise, which drives him mad, until he decides to “fall in love with the sound.”
The hushed intro then explodes with sound as the title track begins at lightspeed, interweaving warped vocals, pulsating percussion and bright synths to create a colorful song that feels both celebratory and melancholy.
Throughout the rest of A Moment Apart, electronic duo Odesza blends those two emotions — pure joy and wistful sadness — to shape a first-rate album.
Odesza could be described as EDM, indietronica or electropop, but perhaps the best way to describe the duo is chill. Even songs that feature soaring choruses and built-up drops, like “Line of Sight” and “Falls,” feel less like club bangers and more like stoner music.
Nothing’s different about that chill vibe, though — Odesza’s previous records, Summer’s Gone and In Return, had it, too. Summer’s Gone, in particular, rose to popularity in the underground and indie communities of electronic music due to the inimitable sound of the duo.
Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight have risen into the upper echelons of electronic music within five years of their beginning as a duo. The two met during their freshman year at Western Washington University and started collaborating senior year, the same year they released Summer’s Gone as a duo.
The Chainsmokers — another electronic duo whose members met in college — may be atop the charts, but Odesza ought to be EDM’s superstar duo.
Mills and Knight effortlessly blend samples with synths while warping voices. They don’t do much singing themselves, but the guest features are more fitting anyway.
Unlike the Chainsmokers, Odesza has kept its underground roots, remembering that all that really matters is the music. Percussion, synths, piano, vocals, a few horns and even banjo make appearances, but even the oddball instruments feel right.
The oddball songs feel right, too. “Everything At Your Feet,” featuring guest vocals from Spanish-language group The Chamanas, fits perfectly on the album. Some albums’ non-English tracks, like those on M83’s Junk, feel forced and awkward. Not so on A Moment Apart.
Still, A Moment Apart is much like In Return. There are electropop songs with choruses and drops, like “Line of Sight” and “Higher Ground”; there are bright, happy electronic songs mostly devoid of vocals, like “Boy,” “Late Night” and “Show Me”; and there are more pensive, slow songs, like “Just A Memory” and “Thin Floors And Tall Ceilings.”
Throughout all of the songs, the joy that is discharged with every song is layered with sadness.
Lorde’s Melodrama is an album for that annoying, inexplicable feeling of sadness you feel during the party. A Moment Apart is for the heartache that begins the moment you wake up, hungover and alone, and wonder what the hell happened last night.