Thursday, October 25, 2007

Octopus Project Gets Some 7.5 Love From Pitchfork.

The Octopus Project
Hello, Avalanche
[Peek-A-Boo; 2007]
Rating: 7.5
Online review

Even before the MySpace community voted them their favorite band to open up Coachella last year, the Octopus Project showed real potential to connect with today's increasingly tech-happy music listeners. Unlike, say, Radiohead or Wolf Parade, bands with a bleak, often anti-technological stance despite their significant use of machine textures, this Austin instrumental act creates music sounding completely at peace with Earth 2.0. No wonder they've enchanted MySpace, the blogosphere, and any other demographic that communicates online much more frequently than in person-- they're cyberspace's ultimate guilt-free party band.

The album that netted them this buzz was their second, 2005's One Ten Hundred Thousand Million, which harnessed several indie idioms en vogue at the time without sounding derivative or self-conscious. Their sophomore effort calculated the least common denominator between disco-punk, laptop pop, and Nintendocore. At the drop of a dime, a stoic new wave drum'n'bass dirge could slouch into a Bubble Bobble jam, the electronic mêlée no more threatening than a pixilated Mario brother. Since then, the Project has directed their attention to the nooks and crannies instead of rummaging through more genres, their expansion more vertical than horizontal.

Opener "Snow Tip Cap Mountain" gently lays the groundwork, building over soothing xylophone and theremin parts until the next track, "Truck", explodes with the tectonic-moving force of a Broken Social Scene anthem. While One relied on superhuman displays of instrumental expertise (a tactic these virtuosos were totally up for), Hello, Avalanche never requires the players to carry too heavy a load. As a result, we get intricate electro-fugues like "Black Blizzard/Red Umbrella" or "I Saw the Bright Shinies", tracks that require multiple listens to parse and fully appreciate. This musical matrix avoids sounding painted by number, however, thanks in large part to changeups like the acoustic-tinged "Upmann" or fractured faux-Frog Eyes piano ballad "Vanishing Lessons", just two examples of Hello's willingness to drastically depart from the Project's default sound.

At times, the euphoria swells so suddenly you can't help but feel let down when no vocals enter to articulate the moment. Eventually, even the band can't hold back. Soothing closer "Queen" finds them breaking their vow of silence, cooing a beeping laptop lullaby that tucks the album in to bed. Despite its calm nature, the song only titillates the listener further, showing flashes of what this modest instrumental group could become. Miraculously, the Project's somehow managed to remain loyal to their digitized style (and fanbase) while also subtly growing into a more multi-faceted unit, not at all reliant on simple 8-bit or post-punk tropes, but mind-numbingly fun nonetheless.

-Adam Moerder, October 25, 2007

Octopus Pro are on the last leg of their massive three+ month North American tour. There are still plenty of opportunities to catch the fantastic live show.

10/25 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
10/26 Chicago, IL @ The Abbey
10/27 Chicago, IL @ The Abbey
10/29 Minneapolis, MN @ The 7th Street Entry
10/30 Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room
10/31 Norman, OK @ Opolis
11/02 Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge
11/03 Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
11/05 Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey
11/06 Vancouver, BC @ The Media Club
11/07 Portland, OR @ Holocene
11/08 San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
11/09 Visalia, CA @ Cellar Door
11/10 Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy Theater
11/11 San Diego, CA @ The Casbah
11/12 Tucson, AZ @ Plush
11/13 Phoenix, AZ @ Modified
11/14 Albuquerque, NM @ The Launchpad
11/15 Lubbock, TX @ Jake's
11/16 Austin, TX @ Emo's

No comments: