The Octopus Project


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Anyone who had been paying attention knows that the Octopus Project are a clever bunch whose take on indie electronic music is as smart as it is joyful, but it seems they've been saving the evidence of just how brainy they are for their fifth album. Hexadecagon is easily the group's most ambitious effort to date, a suite of eight instrumental pieces that revel in layered rhythmic textures and rich dynamics, and owe as much to contemporary minimalist composers (they've cited Terry Riley and Steve Reich as influences on this project, and rightly so) and the livelier end of progressive rock as anything they've recorded in the past. The material on Hexadecagon was originally created for a multi-media presentation in which the Octopus Project used an eight-channel surround sound system and multiple video projectors to envelop their audience in audio and images, and while the technology of the average home stereo can't match that, the pulsing strands of music in these compositions coalesce into a whole that's full of power and drama. If the sound doesn't literally surround you in this recording, the gradually rising crescendo of "Circling," the spectral, interlinked melodic lines of "Hallucinists" and the Tangerine Dream-like textures of "A Phantasy" (complete with vinyl surface noise) are grand enough to build a world of their own as they play themselves out. This is all the more impressive given the extended running times of the songs; only two of these pieces are under four minutes, and "Circling" goes on for over ten minutes, but nothing wears out its welcome. And while the sense of fun that dominated the Octopus Project's earlier music is hardly gone from Hexadecagon, the scope and imagination of their compositions and the skill with which they carry them off in the studio confirms this band takes their music quite seriously, and rightly so -- this music is powerfully rewarding and confirms the Octopus Project have moved into the front lines of America's most imaginative and accomplished indie rock bands.

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