ODESZA – Memories That You Call

(ft. Moonsiren)

odesza

Length – 4:06

Tempo – 120bpm

Genre – Melodic Dubstep/Chillwave

Context/Era

‘Memories That You Call’ is the 11th track of the album ‘In Return’ by 2-piece production group ODESZA. Released on September 8 on Counter Records, this album marks a warm return to style by the group known for their slick, melodic  approach to modern bass music. Comprised individually of Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight, ODESZA delivered a triumphant record with ‘In Return’. ‘Memories That You Call (ft. Moonsiren)’ is in my opinion, the stand out track on this album due to it’s intricate production, great vocal sampling and excellent use of melodic synths to create a nostalgic, euphoric sound. The genre of ODESZA’s music is hard to categorise; it draws influence from a wide range of genres and sub genres including melodic dubstep, trap, electronic and ambient. The description on their official page mentions they  have their foundations in the future and garage house genres but are highly malleable around these individual sounds.  ‘In Return’ marks a return from their previous album ‘Summer’s Gone’ and EP ‘My Friends Never Die’.

ODESZA continues to carry the flag in this genre along with similar artists Flume, Madeon and Slow Magic with innovative, soaring bass tracks. ‘ Memories That You Call’ is an song that’s been described as sounding like the memories of Summer. It’s reverb-saturated vocal samples, bright synths, heavy-hitting drums and huge bass combine in a euphoric aesthetic that has been popularised in recent years. Meeting originally at university, both members of Odesza are from classical and trained musical background, revealing how their use of melody is so refined. However, while their training is classical, the direction they have helped push electronic music in is very forward-thinking.

Influences

Odesza draws influence from a large range of music so it stands to reason that their personal music tastes are wide and varied. One member of the group Harrison says about his influence: “I listened to a lot of stuff my parents listened to, like movie soundtracks, a lot of soul and funk, disco, stuff like Frank Sinatra, stuff like that. As I grew up, I got more into hip-hop, indie music and classic rock. I like tribal music and lots of stuff. I’m pretty diverse” (Fresh Wet Paint, 2014). While their sound is fresh, it draws influence from earlier acts like Flume and Bonobo who also incorporate a lot of melody while actively trying to be progressive. In the same interview linked above, Harrison states the initial aim of the group was ‘totally an experiment’.

Consistently throughout their songs, female vocals are sampled, often with heavy processing in the way of reverb, modulation, delay and cutting.   The background pads and synths in this track are highly reminiscent of something like Brian Eno’s ‘Apollo’ or Stars Of The Lid’s  And Their Refinement of the Decline: heavily modulated to give a wide and warm sound to the foundations of the track.

Production

From a critical perspective, the production of this track is nearly impeccable. The overall aesthetic of this track is in line with the ‘euphoric’ vibe that’s being explored currently. The major production technique to achieve this sound is quite simple: Have huge, punchy drums that occupy the majority of the mix and use time-based effects on the melodies to fill the rest of the mix. This combines the club-compatability  of dance/hip-hop with the soaring, ambient melodies of musicians like Brian Eno. EODESZA, while being an electronic group, are trained classical musicians and bring a slightly unique approach to production than other artists. Below we can see a picture of Harrison live playing an acoustic floor tom and crash cymbal, both of which are quite unorthodox for electronic music.IMG_1961

Being musicians prior to creating electronic music has found it’s place in ODESZA’s production with a lot of the gear they use being physically triggered like drum pads and so on. The timbre of this track is bright and shimmering, projecting the feeling of  a sunny day at the beach. Unlike traditional hip-hop, ODESZA samples primarily digital sounds with high-end gear so the lo-fi crackle and warmth from old-school hip-hop albums is replaced with a crystal clear, intricate sound. A list of the gear that ODESZA is known to use is shown below and consists largely of modern, high-end samplers, synths and drum pads. It’s this gear along with classical production knowledge that allows for such a roomy, spacious sound to be created.

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Instruments

Synths/Pads: Opening up the track are two different synths, one being an ambient pad and the other being more of a plucked sound. The plucked sound almost sounds like a warped vocal pitched up 2 or 3 octaves and sits at just below 4kHz. The ambient pad is heavily reverberated and utilises an automated panning envelope to move left to right, giving the mix a spacious feeling. This pad sits at around 2-2.5 kHz. These synths continue throughout the track but are less prominent part from interlude sections. The following section that leads into the drop introduces around 4 new sounds, 2 of which are synthesised. There is a rapidly repeating sound to the right of the mix which sounds like an acoustic guitar at first but we can notice it being modulated in a digital way around 10 seconds into it’s introduction.The other synth that gets introduced is similar to a horn ensemble that sits quite low in the mix and acts as a strengthening point of the sound. This horn sound is around 600kHz and despite being low in the mix, it’s wide, solid sound helps strengthen the mix whilst maintaining subtlety. These are the synths throughout the song and while being important factors of the track, there is more emphasis placed on the vocals and the drums so I will deconstruct those below.

Drums: 4 bars into the track, we hear the first of the percussive elements of the song. Initially there is a clave coupled with a sonar pluck which is absolutely saturated with delay. This makes the percussion dance across the track and adds a feeling of wideness similar to the ambient synth. Beginning at the start of the build-up to the drop, the drums come in scattered all over the mix in the form of a few different, individual sounds.

  • There is a 4/4 clap which repeats every two notes.
  • Hi Hats playing rolling 16th notes.
  • Random percussion one shots
  • The clave makes a slight return two bars into the build up
  • Just before the drop, we hear an acoustically sampled drum roll which is resemblant of a rock’n’roll fill.

After the drop, the drums drop out completely, allowing the vocals and synths to ring out. After this, there is a build up similar to the first time around The drums play the same role they did initially and are joined by a double tom hit at the beginning of each bar. The drums on the chorus are tight and gritty without sacrificing spaciousness. The kick is highly compressed to give it a hard attack and short release to keep the mix tight and the snare is similarly compressed but touched with more reverb. This allows the mix to breathe after each snare hit. The hi hats in the chorus are the rolling hi-hats from the build up and they flow nicely, sitting slightly underneath the other drums in the mix.

Vocals: Vocals are the standout feature of track in two ways. There are passages where full vocal phrases play out in a traditional singer-over-track fashion and there are parts where the vocals have been manipulated (pitched, equalised and cut) and used more as a synth than a vocal. The first instance of vocals is in the build-up where we hear the vocal cuts being used. There is the primary vocal which sits in the middle of the mix at 4-6 kHz. Occasionally there is soulful vocal sample that is panned hard-left, furthering the stereo-imaging of the track. The vocals that are being used in this track are provided by a musician ODESZA hired, Monsoonsiren, to completely utilise every aspect of the voice. This is why we hear vocals that are highly similar to each other throughout the track. Typically, when sampling vocals from another track, a lot of Eqing has to be one which often results in a loss of quality. Having a sessions vocalist to record high-quality vocal stems allows for the highest quality vocals to be used.

Bibliography

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