With BRONSON, ODESZA and Golden Features go for collaborative glory
Time after time, long-hyped collaborations fail to live up to expectations. With BRONSON, that simply isn’t the case.
Everyone knows how it feels to hear that two of your favourite artists are collaborating with one another, and the excitement and hype that brings into your life. Likewise, a fair few people probably know how it feels to be disappointed by the end result; their sounds clashing too heavily, the lack of authentic relationship present right down to the collaboration’s core, or maybe even because you’ve internally hyped it up so much that it could never live up to the expectations (it’s hard to do otherwise, we’ve all been there before).
With the announcement of BRONSON, a collaborational project between ODESZA and Golden Features, no-one really knew what would happen. All signs were pointing to greatness, seeing as the pair of artists were already close friends in the past, and have worked with one another in the form of remixes and edits throughout the years. Both the acts also have experience with collaboration in the past - Golden Features recently teaming up with personal heroes The Presets for an EP, while ODESZA’s records are littered with guests.
Despite that, it was difficult to predict how the two would gel. In one corner, you have Golden Features - a producer who consistently strives for maximalism, heavily inspired by the ruckus of the mid-2000s’ house music sphere and the Sydney club culture that arose from it. In the other corner, you have ODESZA - an American duo raised in an entirely different space with different influences, making music that often teeters on the edge of cinematic beauty that’s definitely found within Golden Features’ work, albeit not as present as it is through the Seattle duo. There’s no doubt it would work - as mentioned, both ODESZA and Golden Features have had no problem merging each other’s sounds in remixes over the years - but how exactly it would roll out was a question answered by “who knows?”.
With BRONSON - the pairing’s debut album, named after its project name - we find out, and it’s worth paying attention to. It’s a twisting ten tracks that sit perfectly in the middle of ODESZA’s and Golden Features’ respective universes, capturing the cinematic soundscapes of ODESZA’s work underlaid by Golden Features’ darkness. ODESZA aren’t soundtracking a teen comedy this time, they’re soundtracking an apocalyptic fall; a Mad Max rush with Golden Features in driving seat, warping and twisting the world ODESZA are attempting to capture.
At times, you can really hear both ODESZA and Golden Features shine through. The Gallant-assisted KNOW ME feels plucked from an ODESZA record in the past, with the subtle euphoria of the track’s crescendoing production underneath, while DAWN - the album’s long-sprawling closer, featuring Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - is a marvel worthy of a place in Interstellar’s soundtrack with its otherworldly sways. However, in both tracks, you can still hear Golden Features’ underlying impact; through the way DAWN explodes into a rush of percussion in its dying moments, or in the way that KNOW ME’s synth work gradually emerges, warped and distorted in its own subtle way.
In other moments spread across the album’s ten tracks, it sounds like Golden Features takes the wheel. The quick-moving BLINE has nods to the late-2000s hey-day of house-y EDM with the way its pulses of synth rattle of their surroundings, while TENSE battles with maximalist break-downs and rushing bursts of loudness; feeling near-Boys Noize-adjacent with its flurry of thick-lined bass and heavily distorted synth. KEEP MOVING is another example amongst the album’s peaks; an extension of Golden Features’ adored debut album that isn’t afraid to teeter into experimentalism. However, much like before, the core of ODESZA’s sound is present throughout. You get the suggestion that none of these tracks were really worked on alone.
In saying that, however, there are clear moments where both ODESZA and Golden Features shine distinctly together, and those moments are where the collaborational peaks of BRONSON really make themselves known. Take a song like HEART ATTACK for example, which pairs these floating vocals of lau.ra with a low-slung production that moves underneath; ODESZA’s euphoric synth matched half-half with Golden Features’ twisting rhythms. CALL OUT is another example, rich with ODESZA’s expert vocal chops and distorted sampling that move amongst this slow-paced production that has the heart and soul of a Golden Features track.
Regardless of whose presence is felt more on which song, you really get the sense that BRONSON is an album largely removed from both ODESZA and Golden Features’ discography, drenched with a sense of experimentalism - both personal and collaborational - that finds itself being the core of the record. It’s a chance for the both of them to branch out into new realms without the constrictions and limitations of their own respective projects; and opportunity to bend the rules, and do what they like.
As the pair explain, the opportunity for them to move outside of their respective boxes came with a sense of cathartic freedom, something that you can really feel deep down in BRONSON’s roots. “This record isn’t like anything any of us have done before; it’s a creative departure from the worlds of ODESZA and Golden Features - but that’s the beauty of it and the fundamental intention of the project,” they say.
“We initially began making music with one another with no goal in mind, we were just bouncing ideas back and forth (halfway across the world) and experimenting with new sounds. What ensued was the start of something we felt so pulled and drawn to explore further, so much so that the creation of the full-length album essentially took on a life of its own. BRONSON was born out of a need, almost subconsciously, to push our creative boundaries and build something bold and free of any expectations; it was a really cathartic process.”
BRONSON - the debut album from Golden Features and ODESZA's BRONSON project - is out now via Foreign Family Collective / Warner Music Australia.
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