O D Y S S E Y – ODYSSEY テクノロジ・アドベンチャー

ODYSSEY - ODYSSEY japanese

Don’t let the silly pink and blue cover fool you; the charmingly gaudy artwork to ODYSSEY テクノロジ・アドベンチャー1 by ODYSSEY2 belies a short, pretty, and non-ostentatious album of ambient vaporwave – or, in the artist’s words, “dream music.”3 As of this writing, the album is only available through digital distribution, but the artist expressed interest in financing a limited-edition cassette run.4

“Dosage” opens the album with a series of slow chord strums with moderate reverb alongside prepared, shuffling FX that are similar to those heard in M. Ostermeier’s Rules of Another Small World. “Neon” has a slow, hazy trap-like beat against eerie new age synths. “Static” forsakes percussion in favor of a, well, staticky mystic.5 “Dream” is the best song on the album and is perfectly tranquil, especially with the indistinct dream chatter in its background. “Slow Exit” finishes the album with more glitchy beats and bird chatter, ending on a slightly ominous notion with deep, dissonant MIDI strings that resemble the music to a cave area in RuneScape.

Languid bells lead the melody of “Rain,” sounding much in the way of a farming town from a JRPG,6 but the glitchy percussion detracts from the peaceful appeal. A similar problem comes up on “Gardens,” whose loud, slightly off-tune bells jar the listener, especially since it follows the most relaxing song on the album, “Heaven.” This sort of ambient vaporwave walks an extremely fine line between efficacious yet stimulating hypnagogia – which is already somewhat of an oxymoron – and annoyance. Overall, however, ODYSSEY does a decent job at avoiding the latter state, which is best exemplified by the DJ-Shadow-on-Dramamine beats of “Losing Touch.”

There’s plenty of vaporwave and ambient work out there like this, but that fact doesn’t stop ODYSSEY テクノロジ・アドベンチャー from being a pleasant album with its halcyon sublime.

1. Dosage – (1:35) – ★★★☆☆
2. Neon – (1:28) – ★★★★☆
3. Rain – (2:03) – ★★★☆☆
4. Losing Touch – (3:16) – ★★★★☆
5. Dream – (2:05) – ★★★★★
6. Heaven – (3:23) – ★★☆☆☆
7. Gardens – (1:57) – ★★★☆☆
8. Ocean Waters – (4:47) – ★★★☆☆
9. Walking – (2:01) – ★★★☆☆
10. Static – (2:14) – ★★★☆☆
11. Slow Exit – (4:29) – ★★★☆☆

Overall: ★★★☆☆

[UPDATE 4 April 2016: Changed the overall rating from three-and-a-half stars to three stars.]

1Translation: “technology adventure;” so the full-English title would be likely stylized as ODYSSEY TECHNOLOGY ADVENTURE.
2Stylized as “O D Y S S E Y,” but smushed-together in this review for clarity of reading.
3ODYSSEY テクノロジ・アドベンチャー – O D Y S S E Y ™ | Ambient vaporwave, if enough support is shown, we will do a cassette run : Vaporwave”, Reddit Inc., accessed 28 October 2015, https://www.reddit.com/r/Vaporwave/comments/3o31hg/odyssey_%E3%83%86%E3%82%AF%E3%83%8E%E3%83%AD%E3%82%B8%E3%82%A2%E3%83%89%E3%83%99%E3%83%B3%E3%83%81%E3%83%A3%E3%83%BC_%EF%BD%8F%EF%BD%84%EF%BD%99%EF%BD%93%EF%BD%93%EF%BD%85%EF%BD%99_ambient_vaporwave_if/
4“ODYSSEY テクノロジ・アドベンチャー – O D Y S S E Y,” Bandcamp, accessed 28 October 2015, https://odysseytech.bandcamp.com/releases
5I am 80% sure that the percussion is sampled from the Arabian park theme music of the Maxis game SimCoaster. I played that game so much as a kid; I’d recognize the beat anywhere.
6Specifically thinking of the Fields of Fum from Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles.

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