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Synth EP Review: "Odyssey" by Tim Woodruff

Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.

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Tim Woodruff’s Odyssey takes listeners on an emotional, image-rich synth journey as it unfolds in lyrics, interwoven synths and his expressive singing and guitar playing. The end result moves through many moods and sounds as it unfolds.

“Saturn Landing” comes to life as a shimmering, flickering dance of round-sounding synths moves over a gliding, sweeping background. Luscious bass gently shifts underneath along with slowly undulating synth chords as a slipping sound adds a percussive element. A quickly revolving arpeggio bursts and and fades while the cosmic sonic tide sweeps on. The arpeggios whirl with more motion as thrumming bass supports the other musical elements.

An elevated, glowing synth sails in long and breathy lines out over the soft percussive sound and easy bass tide. The guitar that comes in has a twangy quality as it sings a jazzy, delicate melody that brushes trailing notes through the music. A flashing, dynamic arpeggio dances quick, glittering circles out over the steady bass heartbeat while the guitar calls out in laid back notes. The track comes to an end on a string-like, tremulous synth that drifts off into the distance and ends in silence.

Sparkling, full synths form a delicately repeating pattern and choral sounds add a deep resonance to kick off “We’ve Come So Far.” The steady drumbeat throbs in and shiny, bright notes form a rapidly evolving, wandering pattern over the scudding drumbeat.

Tim Woodruff’s expressive vocals match the synth pattern’s pace. His vocals soar out over the gleaming chimes that flutter above the pulse of the active drums. The vocal melody has a pleasing undulation over the popping bass and drum pulse.

There’s a yearning, upward lift to the chorus as it fills the music over the jumping drumbeat. The chimes’ elevated shine is cut by Tim Woodruff’s leaping, wheeling guitar solo, full of warming emotion and a sense of progress. His emotive voice carries the touching lyrics as the song ends.

This is a song about standing by someone we love who’s in pain and suffering. The narrator is talking about song’s subject as he sees that person “driving out into the night to try and run away.” He imagines the other person thinking about “all the things you heard everyone say.”

The song’s subject is all alone in a crowd with racing thoughts. The narrator imagines that person as they “toss and turn, crash and burn” and try over and over again. Our narrator knows that as the song’s subject looks back “you can see the bridges burn.” However he pledges to “walk beside you even when we have no words.”

There’s encouragement as our storyteller reminds the other person that they’ve “come so far”together as it has taken them a while to find out who they both are. The narrator reminds the song’s subject that “I’m pulling for you now” and reassures that person that “you've always been right by my side, and I'll always be by yours.”

Our storyteller talks about overhearing the way the song’s subject spoke in reference to themselves ‘when you felt like no one cared” and how his heart “broke…a little bit” to hear how scared that person was. He adds “you said you felt giving up, felt like all your hope was gone.”

The narrator is sympathetic to the song’s subject as he acknowledges that “in times like these, it hurts to carry on.” He admits that he can’t fix the other person’s problems or “pretend I could” but reminds that person “I will stand beside you to help you see the good.”

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“Unknown” opens with blunt, bouncing synth creating a percussive pulse that moves into echoing space. An alien sound oscillates out into that vast space in a steady, rough line and ticking cymbals add a metallic feel while the hard-edged, gritty pulse rises and falls.

More drum sounds tick into the cavernous space while a distant, low synth plays a wandering pattern over the thick, jagged weight as it oscillates. Liquid trickling sounds are joined by a flashing electric guitar drifting out through the track in a glowing line while the same hard-hitting synth undulation moves.

The guitar adds a thick, wriggling sound while cosmic, hollow synth tumbles together in a swirling, sweeping rush. Below the flowing synth, the sharpness and vibration of the bouncing low sound support it. The track ends on rough oscillation and liquid sound.

Flashes of dense, glittering synth that flow out through space as the solid drums batter to bring “Hold Onto Me” to life. Tim Woodruff’s clear, expressive vocals carry the lyrics while dense drums thunder and synth flickers and leaps. There’s a break into rising clouds and a light-filled arpeggio swirls as the drums keep up their big pulse.

The drums and bass support the shining synth flashes that cut over and through the song. Electric guitar cries out, feeling triumphant as it climbs before breaking to softly pulsing drums and a shimmer of glowing sound. The arpeggios spin and crescendo over the drums while the vocals soar out above it all.

This song’s lyrics are full of yearning, fear and need. The narrator opens by stating “the world is what you make of it or so they always say” and in his case he says he’s “an astronaut, free falling out in space.” He talks about chaos that arrives “in the quiet” like an explosion from the sky to destroy “everything I’ve ever known” in fire.

Worry thrums in the questions, “What if I lose my tether? What if my line is severed?” He addresses the song’s subject and asks them if they’d hold onto him if his “heart is shattered, all of my pieces scattered.” The narrator feels a loss of control as he is “weightlessly careening toward an end I cannot see” as meteors of “doubt and chaos” fly all around him.

As the darkness spreads, he’s sure he’s finished when "a hand reaches out to catch me and I see that it is you.” He asks that person to hold onto his hand and not let go. The song ends as he calls out in desperation that he let go and lost control. In response, the other person says, “I”m in control. Hold on! Hold onto me!’

“Dreaming” starts off as delicately shining, metallic chimes sparkle with a full sound into open space while deep bass easily flows. A steady, gruff bass oscillation adds shape to the music as high, intertwining synth carries a hopefully wandering melody.

Woodsy xylophone forms a smoothly rippling line as the bell-like lead synth carries the relaxing melody. A quickly cascading synth adds more shape and the medium-high, gleaming lead sails along as the melody speaks of daydreams and enjoying dappled sun under a summer tree.

Digital-sounding synth trickles in bright lines and strings sing out the sweetly dreamy melody, adding a gentler touch. Computerized sound provides a contrast as it twinkles and the lead synth’s shine and the hopeful breath of the string section adds more of a lift. The track fades on glittering synth winding down into quiet.

© 2022 Karl Magi

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