By Derek Howie
“Spectrums” is the fifth long-player from Canadian noise merchants Odonis Odonis. The path of past inspiration, kindled hurt and fractious trauma, resurfaces to merge as the input for the next installation from Dean Tzenos and Denholm Whale. Opening directly straight into the pain with a betrayal in “Trust". A foray into a personal darkness that seems to have persisted since the 2011 debut “Hollandaze”, aptly named and polarising album of 2-halves “Hard Boiled Soft Boiled”, even more diverse infestations of “Post Plague", and their last LP, the Industrial-laden “No Pop".
An arrival of Darkwave, with all its 1980s trappings of desire and dependency fits “More” perfectly and affirms the subtle changes within an already genre-hopping career. This is evident on the next track “Shadow Play”, where Dean’s vocal sit aloft a pulsating bassline, searing acid riff, that’s firmly bolted to a 4/4 kick and glitchy percussion that will freely get any Industrial fan’s heart racing. Further providence of their diversity is at play on “Impossible”, with the marrying of a celestial vocal and a contorted stab of strings, atop an oh-so hypnotic sub-bass; although, the struggle of relationships remains.
Odonis Odonis: Dean Tzenos (left) & Denholm Whale (right)
With an album titled “Spectrums" something would be seriously amiss if it failed to split styles, “Laced in Leather” is another such juxtaposition. The forlorn nature of gloomy New Wave, bedecked with euphoric Trance elements, it’s as club-friendly as Odonis Odonis have gotten so far. While “A Body” slips back into the fog filled shadows of the underground, a bubbling, breathy track, punctuated with a gritty guitar-line added for good measure! This combo continues to what is my standout track off the album, “Get Out”. When that thud of the reverbed kick drum, phased guitar and that distorted, disdainful vocal combine to a pinnacle, I’m left exhaling my pure joy as a simple scream of “Yesssssssss!”; this one rocks hard!
“Slow Drip” returns to the influential retro throb of Synthwave, but there were clearly clues left on their most recent release, the “Reaction” EP from 2019. The synthesizer and rolling drum machine fills, leads to an infernal Disco-esque pace on “In The Fire”. Whispers tinge the edges of this relentless track, with a later hint of guitars twisting things up. “Salesman” is the frenetic closing number! It’s a stroke of genius, as there's nothing more felicitously ‘80s than a door-to-door salesman! The mantra roars, “Got to sell. Sell, sell, sell. Got to sell. Sell, sell, sell, straight to hell” ends the zenith in a little over 30-minutes, but what a belter of a half hour that was!
Extracts from “Salesman/Get Out”, “Impossible” and “Trust/In The Fire” videos
“Spectrums” officially comes out digitally on October 15th, although the band have slowly drip fed out many of the songs already, accompanied by a series of fantastic hue-based videos. There’s also a vinyl option available to pre-order available from their Bandcamp page in the beautiful “Slow Drip" red & transparent pressing, which is expected to ship some time in December. To coincide with the new release Odonis Odonis will be out touring Canada and the US during October and November, so check here for info.
“Spectrums” LP on red & transparent vinyl
I’ve written this review well ahead of the release date not because I’ve access to advance copies of future music like a proper journalist, but because I’m a fan who lucked out when pre-ordering the vinyl via Bandcamp, just minutes after it went on sale. The 2-songs offered as a download incentive to purchase the pre-order turned out to be the entire album, which I gratefully extracted, consumed, of which I kept schtum about, of course!
“Spectrums” WAV files/My Odonis Odonis collection
In the meantime, enjoy my little Q&A I did with Odonis Odonis.
Interview with Odonis Odonis
by Derek Howie
Derek Howie: Firstly, thank you for agreeing to talk to us at The Vinyl Hole. Each song on the new album seems to deploy quite contrasting sounds, was this idea conceived before the title, or did the title come first and was it all part of a plan?
Odonis Odonis: The title came after the music. We spent the first part of the pandemic just writing what we felt with no particular direction in mind. Part of that process also involved challenging ourselves to write "normal" songs again. Out of those sessions came a spectrum of sounds so we felt it was a fitting title for the record.
DH: “Spectrums" is quite a departure in terms of sound since the days of “Hollandaze”, I have loved the progression through your music, but have you always been interested in making a largely electronic-based music?
OO: Yeah definitely. We love playing with all instruments, but our writing is heavily informed by Industrial/EBM/Darkwave. We can't avoid electronic percussive elements; they sound too good.
DH: I’ve tried to refrain from saying “80s" in my review of your new album, but I think it’s been clearly inspired by that era, which groups have led to the sound of “Spectrums"?
OO: We definitely have some distinctly 80's synth sounds on here and I'd say our music is indirectly influenced by what we listen to. Older acts like NIN, Depeche Mode, Ministry, and newer ones like Tempers, Boy Harsher, S. Product.
DH: As you’re on The Vinyl Hole, let’s talk a bit about vinyl. Your new album pressing looks stunning in the pictures. Do you still buy records?
OO: Thank you and yes, we definitely pick up records, mostly from shows. It's one of our preferred forms of merch.
DH: So then, what was the last albums you bought for yourself?
OO: The last few records I've picked up are the Sextile EP, Tempers “Private Life”, and Lee Paradise “The Fink”.
DH: Apart from your own records (ha-ha), what albums would you recommend Odonis Odonis fans to buy “blind”?
OO: Pretty much anything that Felte, Dais, Sacred Bones, and Artoffact are putting out these days.
DH: Thanks again for joining us on The Vinyl Hole. My last question is what is your favourite Odonis Odonis album, I’m seriously in love with “Hard Boiled Soft Boiled”?
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