A lot you who are familiar with my writing know that I am in . Well I also have a kind rare neurological disorder as well. This one is a sensory disorder, known as Synesthesia. I rarely bring up this side me, because well, it is a bit unbelievable. But today I had an experience that was the catalyst needed for me to explain this piece me.
What Is Synesthesia?
Synesthesia has become a little more well known in the recent years with artists like Aphex Twin and Pharrell talking about their experiences with the disorder. I call it a disorder, as technically it is defined as such; that being said I have come to regard it as more a gift. Synesthesia is a sensory disorder in where the neurological response a certain sense triggers another resulting in a perceived stimulus.
It is a true blending the senses. It comes in many forms with many technical names but since this is a dance music blog I will forgo the technical lingo. About 1 in 50 people have some form Synesthesia. Some individuals experience tastes from seeing color, others can ‘taste’ sounds. There are even more common forms where people perceive letters as certain colors. Then there is the form I have, music/color Synesthesia. In short how I experience music is a bit different than the average person. To say I can ‘see music’ might be a bit much, but it is not an entirely inaccurate description.
I am sure at this point you are wondering what insane drugs I have taken to give myself this kind permanent psychedelic experience but I can assure you that it has been this way since day 1. No drugs were needed, just good old genetics. That being said – trust me – drugs only increased things 10 fold. Some musicians who experience Synesthesia say it helps them be more creative, when I tried my hand at instruments and production I ultimately found mine to be more a distraction. I never got very good at making music, as much as I tried – so eventually I settled on writing about music, and enjoying the beautiful sites and sounds it produced.
I have always experienced music this way, so honestly the colors that come alongside the sounds are common place. Trying to explain to somebody what I see is pretty much like trying to explain what water tastes like, or what the wind looks like. I just can’t really put it into words. I can give general colors and some their arrangement but never describe the entire picture. Now I listen to so much music everyday, it is almost sad to say that I really don’t notice the colors anymore. They are a constant companion to music, and rarely stand out. Well today for the first time in awhile they stood out.
Always Remember The Beauty Simplicity
Odesza have been my favorite artists for some time now. The first time I saw them in 2014 was right before the release ‘In Return’. They played the smallest side stage the ill fated Hudson Project that year. Only 9 months later, they stole the show at Coachella with a full drum line in tow. Their original, atmospheric sound was powerful and intoxicating. I still listen to many tracks from ‘In Return’ on a daily basis. I hold Odesza as the gold standard in electronic music at the moment. I even was able to ring in the new year to their performance at SnowGlobe in South Lake Tahoe this past winter. I say all this because it is important to know how excited I was today to hear their new music today. With all the excitement around their new music, I still couldn’t have guessed what would happen upon listening.
The Seattle based duo released two tracks today. While ‘Line Sight’ was a fantastic introduction to the new album which Odesza is hard at work finishing, it was the second release the day ‘Late Night’ that really blew me away. ‘Late Night’ is a 4 minute aural case study the sound Odesza has meticulously crafted over the last several years.
When this song started to play through my car’s speakers the various particles that make up the air we breath vibrated and collided. These collisions continued and the waves were carried to my ear drum. Where the beauty and magnificence the human brain decoded those vibrations as sound the auditory cortex. As the nerves the auditory cortex fired something peculiar happened within my brain. The optical and visual cortices my brain lit up as the associated nerves misfired. Colors were produced as the phenomenon Synesthesia occurred.
‘Late Night’ is a divine experience a track in both site and sound. To start, swinging riffs are driven by a constant house inspired bass. The hypnotic thumping launches cascades greens; ivy greens; deep beautiful greens. Soon an atmospheric shimmer rises as the bass slows and subsides. With it comes an electric orange seemingly floating down from top to bottom. Filtered vocals drift in alongside crisp golden waves glistening in from both sides. Then as all combine around one minute and five seconds I became overwhelmed.
I had to pull over. The aural picture being painted by my mind was one that bordered on the sublime. The music itself was so beautiful. Together it was the culmination 3 years waiting. It was all I could ask for in a return. It reminded me to be so grateful for the unique pieces that make up who I am. That even if the colors are a part everyday life for me, to never take them for granted.
I interviewed Harrison Odesza over the phone shortly after the release ‘In Return’ 3 years ago now. We spoke on a variety topics. One thing that always sticks out to me from our discussion was the idea a homecoming, a return back to the things that make us who we are. It is where the title ‘In Return’ came from – returning home after a long tour. Odesza’s music will always seem to play that role for me, a reminder to love everything that makes me who I am, and to enjoy life as it comes. A return to my true self. Listen to the song below, and maybe you’ll just get a taste in your mouth, or picture in your minds eye.