By Jerry Herrera
When we talk about synthwave and its siblings, the term “ambient” doesn’t come up all that frequently. There tends to be a clear direction to the music, intended to conjure up images of racing, cruising, chasing and stalking. If I’m being honest, genres like dreamwave and chillwave have a hard time of nailing that truly ambient feel and oftentimes the music only achieves a dream-like state by being boring and sleep inducing.
So can oDDling, a relatively new name on the scene, achieve ambient success with his newest release? I, for one, say hell yes. Altered State of Mind is fascinating to me because it goes against pretty much every rule we’ve come to follow in the genre but still retains the spirit of the music. Throughout the release you’ll find all the right nostalgic synth sounds and basses, but layered and in such a progression that does indeed give one a sense of the music simply existing in a space, but shifting in tone and melody smoothly enough that there is a definite beginning and end to the tracks, but you were too mentally engaged in the synth bliss to notice. A little saddened and the tracks passing, and delighted all over again at the beginning of a new journey.
'Recurring Dream' and 'Ironic Thoughts' are both the perfect introductions to the album and to oDDling in general if, like me, he popped up out of nowhere for you too. Both easy going but melodic and catchy tracks set the mood and temperature and stoke the interest of the listener. 'Altered State' is very ear grabbing, with an odd mix of freestyle/synth funk and 8-bit video game aesthetics, resulting in the aural equivalent of being stoned on a beach and hanging out at the arcade at sunset.
'Ecstasy Crush', 'Contradictive' and 'Control Problem' gave me flashbacks to one of my absolute favorite electronic ambient artists, Autechre, specifically a track called 'Eutow'. I feel warm and fuzzy and buzzy and chill but there are things for me to sink my mental teeth into, to climb on. I’m like a sloth in a tree of synth, ascending and munching at my leisure, but also hanging onto each branch I find interesting.
'Adrenaline' is another exclamation point on Altered State of Mind. Powerful snares and fills, spacy pads, ascending and descending melodies all unite and it feels like I’m throwing bottled lightning against a wall in a dark alley. 'Broken' is the most ambient, literally muted track on the album. It’s hard to describe its melancholy: the rest of the album is the most, and this track is the least. Like having a hangover or being heartbroken, the track cannot muster anything more than a whisper. It’s oddly beautiful.
To end Altered State of Mind is 'Descending', a warm, sunny track full of buzzing basslines, twinkling keys and Bob Ross-esque happy little synths. I felt like my brain was spooning with a beautiful other brain in a hammock. oDDling is ambient in a sense that the tracks on the album create a moment or a scene or a memory, something that lasts but a moment in real time, and stretches that moment out without distorting the image.
I absolutely love Altered State of Mind, and I haven’t reacted this strongly since Abelard’s Meta Valley EP. I can’t say that this album is genre changing or revolutionary, but it definitely is a fresh take on our beloved genre that I hope catches on, and in general an intensely enjoyable experience as a lover of all music.
oDDling presents Altered State of Mind on his Bandcamp page here and it comes very, very highly recommended by Synthetix.FM.