Fans of Delerium, Enigma, Skinless, Robert Miles, Rama IV and the like will be pleased to know that there is an excellent newcomer to the genre. Odonata is the first full-length CD by Amethystium -- essentially a one-man creation. Oystein Ramfjord, from Norway, is both writer and producer of the magical works presented here, and Odonata is the culmination of a three-year project.
For those of you unfamiliar with any of the bands mentioned above, this genre of music tends to incorporate a variety of somewhat closely related styles including new age, ambient, darkwave (or Goth) and electronica. Amethystium includes a good deal of influence from eastern cultures similar to Deep Forest's use of ethnic singing, chanting and musical instruments from Africa in their music.
A good example of this is on the opening track, "Opaque." This piece contains female chants that I would guess came from Tibet or Nepal. The song, like most on the album, combines ethnic percussion in the background with a more modern sound in the foreground. The sound is very trance-like. I find it hard not to sway to the soothing rhythms while feeling a calm inside that is almost too relaxing.
"Odyssey" has some ethnic vocals that might be Indonesian. I am not a linguist, so they could be Hindi for all I know. Unfortunately, the liner notes are not informative enough. Regardless, I tend to enjoy when East meets West musically, and "Odyssey" is no exception. The flutes or pipes in the background create a dream-like atmosphere. This song always invokes a foggy landscape in my mind when I hear it.
"Arcane Voices" could have come off an Enigma CD. Mixing Gregorian chants with a mostly upbeat melody, this tune is quite engaging. Like the rest of the 14 selections on the CD, this song relies heavily on keyboards. My only complaint is that I must zone out with the music every time I hear this song because, although my CD player claims that it is right at four minutes long, I would swear that it is no longer than 90 seconds, tops.
I do not think that Odonata is very original in its concept. In fact, a friend of mine who heard the CD while I was playing it said it sounded like all those other "ethereal" sounding bands. It should be noted that this friend has never been impressed by musicians who use computers and keyboards to "create" music. If you have a similar outlook, then I suggest you spend your money elsewhere. However, if you are like me and truly enjoy this genre for what it has to offer, then Amethystium is a must-have band for your collection. Odonata has been, without a doubt, one of the most played CDs in my collection since I first heard it. For me, the musical journey is deep and intense. I hope the same might be said for you if you give it a chance.
[ by Wil Owen ]