A truly magical world takes center stage. From the genius and visionary talents of ODESZA’s Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight and Tom Stell of Golden Features, comes BRONSON the self-titled album from the collaborative project that has mesmerized from the onset. Following the path set by the lead singles, the album blisters and sears with metallic delight. Buckle in and get ready to be hypnotized for 40-minutes of exhilarating sounds.
With the advent of streaming, we often don’t receive albums that are cohesive from start to finish and form a long sonic narrative. It’s not an indictment of these artists or even the single-driven game that has propagated from the DSP landscape that tends to be the root cause, but the issue does happen. That is why when a legitimately great album with cohesion from start to finish is released, it must be celebrated and appreciated for bringing forth something special. I can definitively say that the BRONSON album is more than special with a neatly woven sonic journey that is connective and breathtaking. It is one of the best electronic albums that has ever been released and should be recognized as such, alongside works from the likes of Daft Punk, Justice, Aphex Twin, and the other legendary acts of electronic music.
The album begins with “FOUNDATION”, which sets the emotional tone for the album. As track one, it is a key component to providing the pazzazz and unlocks the story to unfold with the connective tissue that BRONSON seeks, which it achieves with stunning colors. It’s a beautiful, slow bubbling sound that has atmospheric energy reminiscent of the individual works of ODESZA and Golden Features. It seamlessly leads into “HEART ATTACK”, the debut single that features the siren-esque vocals of lau.ra. The vocal-driven composition is quite poignant and carries a quality of hopefulness that is further explored via its music video, which can be viewed here. It does a great job of bringing an emotional connection that establishes something deep and consuming in listeners.
BRONSON then sends us to a beat-driven soundscape of “BLINE”. It’s a wondrous sound that builds the energy to get the adrenaline pulsating. I can hear this doing wonders in the live setting as lasers explode all-around. It also succeeds as a buffer between the two most emotional-lyrical tracks of the album. The chilled “KNOW ME” is a rich and tranquil melodic sound that features Grammy-nominated Gallant who provides a mesmerizing vocal that is spectral and beautifully-haunting. The record conjures feelings of nostalgia mixed with feelings of happiness and sadness that come from remembering lives lived that are lost to the past.
At this point, things flip direction and careen listeners into a ravenous and aggressive frenzy, akin to going full-throttle into a pitch-black ravine with reckless abandon. “VAULTS” begins the caffeinated exploration, which was our first glimpse into the depth and multitude of sounds as it was packaged with “HEART ATTACK”. While it starts the onslaught, “TENSE” turns the dial to 100 and sends caution to the wind and I love every second of it. Its industrial design has similarities to the Prince of Darkness, Gesaffelstein, as well as, Nine Inch Nails, which is a bit unexpected when you look at the past works of the trio. However, it highlights their pure brilliance and talent to bring something unexpected that fits perfectly into the sonic narrative of the project.
They allow us a bit of respite by bringing the energy and aggression down to a melodic icy-coolness with “CALL OUT”, which has surprise vocal work from Harrison and Tom. In simple terms, This record is stunning and breathtaking. I really love the record because it has textured sounds and an alluring undertow. They use a whiny synth that seems like a distorted violin or another string instrument that is undeniably cool and sinks its teeth into your brainstem where it sends electrical pulses to connect you with the deep emotional linchpin of the record. “CALL OUT” will be a fan favorite, I’m sure of that.
Things pick up once again with “CONTACT” and “KEEP MOVING”. The former feels like the perfect soundtrack for a car chase scene in a heist movie. The driving and punchy sound design strikes you right in the nerve-endings and makes you feel like you’re racing across the crystalline shores of the Sultan Sea as you attempt to escape The Rock. “KEEP MOVING” continues that trend, but has an industrial style, similar to “TENSE”. It builds in a way that hypes the mind and soul, giving you the confidence to take on the world like the Terminator, ready to take on Skynet and all its minions.
The 10-track-album closes its book with “DAWN”, featuring Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. The ethereal slithering sound is the perfect way to close out the album. It’s spellbinding emotive qualities of hope and strength perfectly close the connectivity of the album and leave us with warmth to soldier on. Even the lyrics, “Never give it up” and “save yourself from doubt”, has a concluding feel to it and serves as a reminder to keep carrying on and fight through these tough times.
Despite the difference in styles and sounds from their past works as ODESZA and Golden Features, BRONSON is nothing short of spectacular and will easily go down as one of, if not the best electronic album of the year. Their transcendental exploration through complex themes of humanity, connection, and the light, dark duality serves to enlighten listeners as we embark on challenges to humanity and our daily lives as seen by the recent pandemic and the ever-worsening Global climate. BRONSON proves that boldness and ingenuity with the talent to ideate will bring a monumental achievement that will send shockwaves across culture.
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