Fever Forms//The Octopus Project
Much hyped in their native Austin for their energetic live performances, The Octopus Project release their fifth album still grappling with a familiar problem for débutantes – how to capture their live lightning in a bottle. To their credit, if they nailed one thing it’s that album cover.
The music is more hit and miss. Tracks like Perhap showcase a blend of electro and rock that has invention, subtlety and enough going on to separate itself from the rest of its ilk. Other tracks like Pyramid Kosmos show the potential for songs that are consistently as good, but also the limitations of a band that, in their attempts to create sprawling digital soundscapes, often find themselves a bit all over the place. It has a certain buzz and energy to it that hints at something great hidden away, but it often becomes lost under a sea of clashing sounds.
Never sure whether to be loud or quiet, the band jump between the two with reckless abandon. It’s disorientating to say the least, and especially with a sound as densely layered as theirs. They remind me of Bloc Party – no doubt they’re prodigiously talented at what they do, but they sound as if they’re attempting to show it all off at once. Everything’s so extreme that it all blends into one mess of noises that, when you pick them out, are actually quite nice but that just don’t mesh together.
Sounding a bit like an 8 bit, electro version of Animal Collective at times, they lack the maturity to marshal the elements into the kind of delicately harmonised music they seem to be emulating. That their sound quickly becomes repetitive doesn’t help either.
You’d expect that ten years into their career they’d have developed a tad more of the kind of focused craftsmanship that produces songs like the furious, bass-driven Mmkit and the aforementioned Stereolab-esque Perhap (one of the songs of the year and the only one that really deserves your attention). It’s songs like these where they mix it up or allow one element to shine through that the band clicks. The poppier, more overtly ‘indietronica’ efforts are nothing you haven’t heard countless times before.
Fever Forms has its moments, but more often it’s musically all out at sea.
Listen to: Perhap, Mmkit
Fuck Buttons//Slow Focus