Orissa is a new progressive music project by U.S. multi-instrumentalist/composer David Dodini who last year released his debut EP, Omens. Dodini is a conservatory trained guitarist who also sings and plays everything on Omens except drums. The album is a four-song EP (which you can hear via the Spotify playlist below) and has a very modern, sparse intense feel that has a strong Tool vibe but is also very song oriented. Like that band, the focus here is not at all on virtuosity but on intensity and atmosphere which I honestly think is much harder to do well. The album is filled with powerful chords, sophisticated rhythms, tons of heavy angularity, ambient electronics and is anchored by Dodini’s plaintive (and distinctly non-metal) vocals and interesting, somewhat cynical lyrical themes. Metal is not a style here at all, but is rather a sound base around which Dodini can affect the listener deeply and emotionally. Orissa’s music manages to be both powerful and contemplative without resorting to any musical clichés.
Omens begins with a short ambient introductory song and moves quickly into the urgency of Disentangled, an exciting piece that perhaps goes on a bit long with its main theme, as good at that theme is. My favorite piece has to be the nine-minute Stooge, a song about the need for and ultimate disappointment in a savior (political or religious perhaps). It’s extremely intricate and has several interlocked themes to illustrate the various aspects of the song including a dramatic, angular opening theme about the promises of the savior, a beautiful, sparse middle section with a much softer guitar tone (hopefulness perhaps?) before restating the beginning in a much less optimistic manner. The middle section has a gorgeous, almost Porcupine Tree feel in its sense of space. Desert Morning is the most Tool-like song with strong powerful chords and a killer Danny Carey-esque tribal beat throughout. The guitar work here is some of the best on the album and the song builds incredibly over six minutes to an exciting finale that shows how Dodini can really take a deceptively simple theme, vary it well to create tension before resolving it. It’s a great style that really must take a lot of work to make it sound so cohesive. (In addition to Omens, you can also hear a couple of new songs that Dodini recently posted on his BandCamp site here.)
Omens is a short album and is basically just a beginning for Dodini’s vision. Kind of his musical calling card if you will. To really show what he wants his band to be, he’s just started a Kickstarter campaign (link is below) to fund the first full-length Orissa album, Resurrection which Dodini promises will be “a journey of self-discovery and transformation. The journey is propelled by a more lush, rounded and feminine sound than our previous music. Interestingly, it is darker and heavier; leading to even greater release. The album artwork is a series of four exquisite paintings that reflect the music and the lyrical imagery.” Usually we entreat our readers to purchase an album if they like it but instead we strongly ask you to consider helping to fund the new album and be a part of helping to bring Resurrection to fruition. You can also enter a giveaway contest to for a day in the studio (link here). Seriously, wouldn’t it be great to say you were there at the beginning? We were also really pleased to be able to interview Dodini recently and we’ll be posting that interview very soon and find out more about his background, influences and his vision for his music.
Review by Jeff Stevens
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