There’s an old axiom that goes, “It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.” This sentiment was voiced in an old jazz tune originally performed by Ella Fitzgerald, “T’aint What You Do”. The music of ØDYSSEE, a jazzist and vibe provider of a different character, exemplifies this axiom. The Parisian producer dances along the ever-narrowing line between jazz and hip-hop while also incorporating bits of blues, boss-o-nova and electronica. Each style feels age-old, but ØDYSSEE reinvents them through a process of musical collage. On his new six-track release Desired Things he borrows bits from different styles and arranges them like a florist does a beautiful bouquet. This unconventional take on hip-hop, presented by NINETOFIVE Worldwide Beatmakers, is entirely composed and arranged by ØDYSSEE himself; there’s no sampled material here.
Lately the producer has been alternating between original compositions and sample-based music. ØDYSSEE plays the piano, synthesizer, guitar, bass and perhaps more. As some of his peers in the beatmaking world have discussed, there is a degree of tension in the industry between composition and sample-based music. Copyright infringement concerns collide with creativity and spark discussion on the history of hip-hop itself. This doesn’t appear to weigh heavily on ØDYSSEE, whose sole goal is to create deeply expressive music regardless of the technicalities behind it.
The keyboard and guitar take turns leading the musical discussion, speaking to the listener and creating dialogue with each other. They’re projected against a background of deep, velvet basslines and shimmering, aqueous synth pads. With his exceptional songwriting ability, ØDYSSEE’s melodies poke the listener in all the right spots, provoking potent emotions and ideas. One can’t help but fall into a productive daydream during the short but rich “Aquatic Groove”. ØDYSSEE’s music would not be complete without top-tier drums. Indeed, a calling card of his production style is percussion that is punctual and snappy yet swings gregariously. ØDYSSEE was influenced by the blues when he learned to play guitar. This influence is apparent across his entire catalog but makes its most dramatic appearance yet on Desired Things. On the the final cut, “Strange Dream”, the tempo dies down and the drums shuffle lazily, opening up space for raw six string dialogue to spill forward.
In tone and texture this music feels organic, yet it’s spliced together mechanically. Hip-hop offers the foundation and skeletal structure, yet the phrasing and amount of improvisation gesture towards jazz. More than most of his projects, Desired Things finds ØDYSSEE carving out new creative space. He’s not departing from the beatmaking milieux in which he began. Rather, he’s broadening the scope of what hip-hop, jazz, and blues can be in this millennium by applying his unique creativity and force of will to these well-established styles. He always has a project or three in his back pocket, too, so stay chooned.