Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Brad Kopplin
It could be referred to as a bulletin from Captain Obvious when an unspecified member of The Octopus Project admits that four of the things that the Texas group is most excited about in the world at-large are hot beats, slow jams, crazy sounds and weird melodies. We would have half-expected more buttered up slang and jargon in their preferences though, like hott beats with the extra T and slo jams with the missing dub-ya. Crazy could have used a few more z's and weird…is just about on the money.
The band makes dance music for wizards who like to sweat, fairy tale characters out on quests to live happier, more fulfilling lives and indie rock freaks who have conditioned themselves to be impressed by all of the slight wackinesses that the Austin quartet apply across the frame with a wet brush. A new song, "Wet Gold," takes a start of such humbleness, striking out in a chiming gallop, with the snippets you hear from the background corners sounding like rubies and diamonds, surprising vocals coming from both Josh and Yvonne Lambert. The lyrics about an experiment gone terribly wrong, but it feels like the song and the ramifications are all unraveling beneath one of those milky twilights, where a daylight glow is still soft and warm. The band - which was named the city's indie band of the year in 2007 by the weekly paper the Austin Chronicle - is a quirky display of what one can do if it wants to do it all.
On its latest album, Hello, Avalanche, their predominantly instrumental tracks give way to swirling ribbons of context that, while maintaining an ambivalence that goes without saying, also afford the opportunity to reel, to lift off the emergency brake and to just let the car coast down the hill, building up a mad sort of rush that doesn't let up until there's no more down to travel. A million thoughts come to mind when the free fall commences and you can't help but gulp a little bit, trying to explore all of the odd acrobatics and gymnastics that Yvonne files past your ears in the forms of Theremin drizzlings - as if a pastry maker were lying a frosting-ed netting over a bundt cake - and synthesizer flares.
Each song is another everlasting gobstopper of flavor - ongoing, tumultuous, pleasure-filled and juicy. Each makes a hang-gliding motion and then sets into a chase through the country, over the hills and terrain, gleefully tearing up real estate and leaving behind exhaust fumes that smell of berries and smoke while sounding every bit like chapel music that's gone through an extreme makeover. They exist in a crevasse between scratchy come-ons and aloof come-ons, brushing up against your legs like a twisting cat tail, waving in the breeze like thick prairie grass and proceeding like the most natural flow of time. The songs live for the light of a candle and for the seconds that it takes to extinguish the flames, sending them into hissing spirals of goodbye gray - which is seen as equally attractive. They move gracefully and sometimes throw some rapidness into their grace, or vice versa, but there's no getting around the splash, the sprinkles and the rather delightful tone that they slip into your drink.