In 2019 I was lucky enough to witness Odete’s magic first hand; a 24 hour stint in Lisbon brought me to a Circa A.D.- her collective’s – party. The lineup included London’s rising star Jasper Jarvis, Tormenta’s Pininga and the Circa A.D. regulars such as Eqstaysa, Queriastarmorta, Fylha, Gyhurbhi, Saintcaboclo and, of course, Odete. Coming together to redefine raving, electronic music and what it is to be queer in Lisbon they made the night wild. The space was unfamiliar but felt so comfortable, with each punter and promoter having a stake in what was taking place. Odete’s set was an event, with two minute wheel ups and far reaching tracks. Her live performances mirror her impressive body of releases: versatile, innovative and poetic.
Her latest work, Water Bender, marks Odete’s most substantial release to date. The third release from London label New Scenery, this nine-track EP has a cohesive sonic narrative. As stated on the label’s Bandcamp page: “Water Bender is the heroine of this story, almost like a Greek tragedy – her gift to bend water ultimately leads to her tragic demise”.
What is most striking about this new release is Odete’s use of vocals. Similar to that of Arca’s Stretch releases, she uses her voice as another instrument manipulating and warping into the essence of each track. The EP builds-up with the short tracks “Yue” and “FETIÇO”. Chaotic drum loops are slowly brought in against sombre vocals and gushing water sounds. It almost feels like Odete is holding back until “O RO“ and “Sangue”. The heavy percussions are set free for a burst of rhythmic chaos. “O RO“ features regular collaborator BLEID, giving us the first club ready track on this EP. Bass heavy and unapologetic, “Sangue” is the pinnacle of the EP. Sinister melodies circle into the percussive peak of the track, as Odete weaves in hypnotic vocals and vogue samples. Lisbon native DRVGジラ is featured on “DESPEDIDA”. The vocals are the clearest and most agonising on this track, as we sense Water Bender is reaching its tragic climax.
The EP also includes remixes from Herlander and Jasper Jarvis. Both artists do the EP justice with their sonic interpretations of the tragic odyssey. Herlander remixes “Sangue”, reconstructing into a more conventional dance track, utilising simple drum loops and atmospheric synths. Jasper Jarvis takes on “Interlude”, one of the more striped back tracks on the EP. Jarvis manages to make it unrecognisable but so kindred in its woeful tone.
Odete’s ability to wrap us up in this tragic tale sampling tactile and immensely visceral sounds from her’s hometown, is undeniable. Water Bender is an emotional trip with its finale leaving us cold, wet and alone in the club, proving to be tragically real.