From what I gathered out there, Oddisee is a rapper as well as a producer. This is a collection of lyrically absent music, however. Beauty in All opens with “After Thoughts,” an aptly titled tune. A nice thumping bass loop and a variety of repeating chirps and bloops make this a real head nodder. I have to admit that while listening to it I lost myself in unrelated thoughts at least a couple times. To be frank that happened frequently during my perusal of this collection. That was Oddisee’s intention I suspect. “In My Day,” moves the album ahead while teleporting us mentally back to a classic time in music. Perhaps I’m incorrect, but it sounds like Oddisee sampled sounds from the era we are meant to conceive. There are organ, brass, guitar and even percussion sounds that would have been right at home in Detroit in the 60’s.
“Fashionably Late,” confused me. I was grooving right along and just getting interested in where the song would go with the layered buildup, and … and … what the Hell? It went silent for a moment and the music proceeded with a completely different beat and set of sounds. I had to check and see if I was listening to the same piece of music. It became a tribal beat with hollow sounding wind instruments. I bounced back and forth with the time-slider to see if at least the melody and timing matched, but I wasn’t able to make sense of it. And just when I was getting into that new part of the song, it was over. Oddisee has a few songs on the album that change completely two-thirds to three-quarters through, and I’m not sure what he was going for there. “The Gospel,” and “Caprice Down,” also mutate towards the last portion. Each change felt so completely separate that they should probably have just become tracks on their own.
I have to say that “Lonely Planet,” made me laugh out loud at my desk and scare my cat, Hampton. The song begins with a really relaxed bass, guitar, and snare combo, then a loud, distracting, rapid beeping and blooping loop begins. It goes away and returns throughout the song and all I could picture in my head was a jazz ensemble trying to practice over some bastard kid playing Millipede on Atari at full volume. Go ahead, see if you don’t get the same mental image.
My stand out song for the album? “Patience in Play.” Oddisee employs a great combination of instruments sampled, bongos, deep piano notes, strumming guitar and layered strings make this what I consider to be the richest song in this collection. Great buildup, climax and ending, this song is keeper to add to my downtempo collection.
All in all this is a good record. Never having heard of Oddisee, I’m rather impressed. This is obviously a show of progress and experience from someone who has been around the musical block for a minute and learned how to make songs that sound pleasing to the ear. I would recommend this to anybody that enjoys music from the downtempo-slash-chill-slash-whatever-the-fuck-you-call-it genre. My collection of that type is enormous. It’s excellent for studying, thinking, cleaning, sex or any activity where you require a beat, but lyrics would be distracting. It almost pains me to rate this album three of five stars but I can not give it four because there were too many little things that irked my ears, particularly the weird mid-song changeover thing. I could see this being really entertaining live and quite loud but within the confines of my expensive headphones, I have to say that I was somewhat bored. It sounded good. It is well mixed, I would say that it’s enjoyable, it’s pleasing to the ear, but it doesn’t really grab me or take me anywhere. To be fair, two of the songs did, “In My Day,” and “Patience in Play.” However, the rest felt “meh” to me. It’s a well made musical shrug.
That being said, I would stop and check Oddisee out live if the opportunity presented itself. The trouble with electronic music is that most of it lacks lyrics, even repetitive lyrics. Without lyrical content one relies on the music alone to move someone, whether that is merely to cause a riot of twerking and sexual cavorting, break-dancing, or even that liquid rave-shit. In my experience, most in the genre fall very short of that ability. There are volumes of bleeps and bloops, more recently wub-wubs and meep-zorps, to which I will never give a second chance. I’ve heard the music under the correct circumstances and it failed to capture me. I enjoyed Beauty in All in headphones, but it seems sort of dull outside that realm. I wouldn’t dance to it, so perhaps one needs to see it performed, as much as programmed music can be performed, anyhow.
I should also mention the accompanying mixtape, “Tangible Dream,” is very decent also and totally worth checking out.
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