The Octopus Project is what you might listen to while testing the governor in your car. Somewhere around 110 mph, the annoying jerk of an activated governor device pops your foot off the gas pedal, speed dissipates and the brownish blur of passing trees atomize back into discernible stripes of brown and green. The smell of burnt oil is the first indicator that you probably shouldn’t do that again. So why do cars tease your inner speed freak with a speedometer boasting a 140 mph mark, when it’s just going to tap out around 110 mph? The answer is safety.
The Octopus Project’s new album, Hexadecagon will test your patients with drawn out electronic crescendos that fail to climax. I realized this somewhere between “Fuguefat” and “Korakrit”. It’s a suitable space for something heavy, fast and devastating, but that masochistic desire is never delivered, like a dominatrix whipping your local mayor ever so gently. Instead we’re given melancholy tracks with non-organic sounds, reversed and repeated with the same structure as before, with little or no reach towards something the slightest bit interesting.
Really, the album should come with a chemistry set. The set includes a few non-toxic melodies, various drones, samples, synthesizer and a napkin to wipe the drool off your face after you’ve unintentionally made an album and listened to it repetitively for hours on end. And for just $1.99 get the live music edition, complete with a Japanese guitar and 50 effects peddle to the hide the fact that you don’t actually know how to use it. (Not that there is anything wrong with a simple guitar riff. Sometimes all it takes is a few chords to strike emotion. Anger is a great place to start. Lyrics aside, you don’t need them to get the point across. Listen to Rumble by Link Wray.)
Music encounters technology in waves. When the tide comes in, it brings with it albums like Hexadecagon, bottom feeders that clean up the seafloor on a strict diet of dead fish, simple ideas that others have abandoned. But we can’t blame The Octopus Project for making technologic elevator music. It’s bands like The Octopus Project that take a single blue print of sound and build an efficient city. Somewhere amidst this album is a lurking idea, chained down with modesty. It would be nice to see this idea break though and wreak havoc on gated communities—but it doesn’t.
About five years have gone by since gaining notoriety for “unique sounds,” and being “experimental” in nature. They’ve played some great shows and satisfied large venues. Other bands have taken this torch of a genre and expanded upon it uniquely, or at least as unique as possible (Ghostland Observatory, Fuck Buttons, Caribou). Hexadecagon does not do this.
The future will undoubtedly have elevators, and those elevators will need elevator music.