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The Octopus Project - Hexadecagon

The Octopus Project


(Peek-A-Boo Records)

Since their inception almost a decade ago, Austin’s indie/electronic act the Octopus Project have forged their niche in the instrumental rock world. With Hexadecagon they have finally succeeded in entering a league all their own. Their style is a stew consisting of equal parts post-rock, dance, prog, and even minimalism. Yes, minimalism. As layered and busy as the songs sound, the musicians themselves have cited composers Terry Riley and Steve Reich as major influences, especially on Hexadecagon, where patience and thoughtful execution take precedence over blind experimentation (an easy trap for instrumental music to fall into).

Experimental yet accessible and enveloping in every way, the Octopus Project have crafted an album to givethe Flaming Lips’ Zaireeka a run for its money as far as engaging a listener goes. While simply popping this album in at home will be fulfilling in its own right, Hexadecagon (the geometrical name for a 16-sided object) is meant to be experienced live as a part of a multi-media monolith of epic proportions. The songs were specifically written for an eight-channel surround sound system, in which eight speakers surround the audience, who in turn surround the band, while eight synchronized projections accompany this mayhem from above. These visuals are provided by noted digital artist Wiley Wiggins. You’d be wise to Youtube this event in all its six-part glory from this past year’s SXSW.

Until the next time they roll through town, we’ll have to settle for the auditory experience of Hexadecagon, which doesn’t disappoint. The opening track, “Fuguefat,” sucks you in immediately with its mathy arpegggiated piano intertwining with a dizzying marriage of live and sequenced percussion. “A Phantasy” could best be described as a blissed-out meeting between the Chemical Brothers and the Album Leaf. “Circling” is the true highlight of the album: Clocking in at almost 11 minutes, the track never wears out its welcome and may set a new standard by which all other crescendos will be measured. Think of the beginning of “Baba O’Riley” on speed and looped over itself creating a song-wide polyrhythm, and you’ll be getting close to understanding this hypnotic mix of piano, sun-drenched electronics, and swelling blast beats.

All in all, this is music that can be as small or expansive as you want it to be, shining equally under a microscope or from afar. That broad accessibility is what sets the Octopus Project apart from a crowded pool of instrumental bands. Hexadecagon proves that from now they need only worry about outdoing themselves.

eric kendall

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