Underrated Artists: ODESZA

An elevated level of EDM

Electronic duo ODESZA has captivated the underground electronic scene for a decade, but that does not stop them from deserving more of the spotlight. Their orchestral approach to electronic instruments shows there is more to electronic dance music than what is played on the radio. 

ODESZA, composed of producers Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight, has released five albums, some with respective deluxe versions, since 2012. Their first, “Summer’s Gone,” is a compilation of mostly experimental instrumental tracks, which would become their signature style present in their future albums.

ODESZA deserves more attention for what they have contributed to the electronic music scene.
(Illustration by Dhruv Sharma)

“How Did I Get Here” is a great example of what ODESZA is known for, with repeating vocal chops and an enticing instrumental that evolves over the course of the song. Though there is no singer featured, it is clear ODESZA has prioritized having some form of vocals laced throughout their songs since they started making music, which has added much more individuality to their songs. 

Similarly, “Always This Late,” the headlining song of their second album “In Return,” features a changing instrumental with vocal chops. ODESZA utilizes these vocal chops in a way that is not annoying, too high-pitched or intolerable, which can be a downside of many electronic songs featuring vocal chops. On the contrary, these songs provide beautiful transitions or introductions for other songs to flow into. 

Their third album “A Moment Apart” features some of their best work, with more than half of the songs featuring talented singers. “Line of Sight” features producer WYNNE and band Mansionair, artists that have slightly darker, more somber approaches to their songs, adding more depth to a song that would otherwise be another one of ODESZA’s many purely instrumental happy ones. The drop of this song is both relaxing, yet upbeat with its varying rhythms and satisfying combination of drums and synths. “Line of Sight” has earned a spot on almost all of my playlists since 2017 because of its versatility and mystical sound. 

Though much of ODESZA’s discography is on the upbeat side, there are a few that are more downtempo and melancholy. “Just A Memory” featuring Regina Spektor is one of those toned-down songs, placing more emphasis on Spektor’s vocals and less on the instrumental. The background music, however, acts as leading the lines for the listener, following the atmospheric vocals as they flow from beginning to end. It also follows the theme of “A Moment Apart,” which with some songs is the sadness and reflection of heartbreak, while with others it is empowerment. 

Another gem on “A Moment Apart” is “Falls” featuring Sasha Alex Sloan, a talented vocalist who adds even more to what this song could have been. Though I am not a huge fan of exceeding and repetitive motivational lyrics, this song is an exception, as its beat drop is one of the best I have heard from any EDM song. The drop has synths and melodies that work so well together to create a whimsical sound, boosting this album to ODESZA’s number one in my eyes.  

As an electronic music fan, I can admit that EDM can have the tendency to be too noisy or unlistenable, but ODESZA has managed to find a perfect balance between relaxing and upbeat. Their music will never fail to impress me, and I heavily recommend giving them a listen.