Number 28 in Koji Asano's catalog is surprisingly short. Octopus Balloons presents a single piece -- the artist's norm -- of 33 and a half minutes. Don't make the mistake of interpreting this fact as a sign of relief; this piece is as challenging and tough on the ears as most of his other works. But, it does feel less abstract and can be enjoyed on a slightly more emotional level -- maybe. On the noisy end of Asano's spectrum, it consists of buzzing and humming sounds of an electrical kind, processed to produce that grainy and hovering microtonal feel that has become associated with the man's music. After an introductory outburst followed by a short silence, you are treated to a continuous movement of layers upon layers of those sounds. Density is the main factor of change throughout the piece: more layers equals louder and more dizzying textures, while few layers translates to softer, quieter soundscapes. A wide stereo separation, with events often happening in one channel only, augments the sense of alienation considerably. This piece shares affinities with A Secret Path of Rain, Quoted Landscape, A Second Dam, or even the Last Shade of Evening Falls series (minus its faint melodic component). If Asano ever sounded like a mad knob-turning scientist, it is here. Difficult listening in every possible way.
AllMusic Review by François Couture