Ellende – “Odyssey, A Sentimental Journey” Album Review (dark ambient)

a1595424173_16We don’t often get to travel to South Africa on this blog so today is a rare exception; appropriately so, however as our artist today is indeed an exception above the roles of dark ambient/drone and experimental music in general.

Ellende brings us Odyssey, A Sentimental Journey.

From Bandcamp: “The music might sound a bit nostalgic, the ambience of warm February nights in Cape Town while the sounds of old French movies seep through a badly tuned piano. Sometimes the doors are shut and large metal sheets are heard processed through guitar pedals. A modular synthesiser, analogue synths (Roland SH-101, Juno 6, ARP Solus, Solina) and guitar have been used as well throughout the album.”

So you understand the diversity in the instrumentation herein, I’m including the artist credits toward the bottom.  But let’s first start with the noteworthy packaging.  The physical release comes in a stunning hard-back book with a lot of text and illustrations.  Included are two 10″ vinyl records.  It’s limited to 300 copies so I suggest you grab one.  

The release contains 10 total tracks ranging from just over 2 minutes to 5:43.  I suppose it’s easiest to describe the over-all feel as a soundtrack to different stops on a journey.  It’s not a constant flow throughout; more like a set of views outside similar windows in different locations.

While it may or may not be intentional, one of the first artists who come to mind when listening to this album is Charlamange Palestine.  Though he is known for a very minimalist approach, one of the effects is the manifestation of new tones created by striking notes – even in different keys.  We have something similar going on in Odyssey…  Ellende combines digital and analog equipment (see credits below) to create some interesting combinations of tones.  A track like “Poetically Waxed” might produce a more perpetual, vacuous (even paranoid) vibe while a track like “Purity Is True Love” combines twists and turns (even at times, narrated) carrying the listener on a journey that is both drone-laden and guided by what sounds like manipulated, effect-laden brass instruments.

Certainly there is a wide range of emotions herein on Odyssey as a bit of nostalgia (and perhaps uncertainty or fear) can be felt in “Girlfriend Experience.).  “If, And Only If” produces some pretty interesting sounds almost as if they are using field recordings from some remote jungle mixed in with some whimsical old analog keyboard to the end, like the end of a short but very odd journey.

This is a great release and the vinyl adds a bit of character as well.  Fans of dark ambient should enjoy this album, especially the physical release with the stunning book.


Dave “Slave” Mbambi: Guitar, Drones, Synths
Lodewikus Pretorius: Piano, Modular, String Synths
John John: Synths, Bows, Percussion,
Martinus Antonius: Recording, Mix, Tapes, Phasers
Rafael Anton Irisarri: Mastering
Richard Hart: Design and Art Direction



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