[14 April 2011]
The Octopus Project swung through Brooklyn for a night at The Music Hall of Williamsburg on April 6th as part of their national tour. This Austin group had to miss SXSW this year since they were on tour with Devo, having landed a supporting slot after playing together at last fall’s Moogfest. But their hometown showcased the band anyway with a win for #1 Best Experimental Band and last year’s release Hexadecagon was voted #8 in Album of the Year category in The 2010 – 2011 Austin Music Awards. The Octopus Project’s live performance of Hexadecagon (which refers to a 16-sided object) with an 8-channel sound and an 8-channel video system was a highpoint of last year’s festival.
The band opened with “Malaria Codes” off their 2005 release One Ten Hundred Thousand Million. This minimalist composition was a nice warm up to their experimental indietronica, which never strays from an honest, sometimes humorous, human connection. The Octopus Project composes songs that have a beginning, middle and end: they don’t just push ‘play’ on a variety of electronic gizmos. The extraordinary musicianship is amplified by an exchange of roles on stage—from switching spots at the drum kit to play guitar or pull out different instruments, even within the same song. The stage is a very busy place for the group, Tito Miranda, Ryan Figg plus a married couple, Josh and Yvonne Lambert. However, beyond a few “thank yous” between songs, the band members kept to the business of adventurous music.
There were a few new songs that fit right in to their expansive catalog spanning the past decade, along highlights from Hexadecagon. The heavy drums and wailing guitar of “Porno Disaster” led nicely into the sweet melody and slower build of “A Phantasy”. Later, a lovely Theremin solo by Yvonne Lambert drifted over the lullaby layers of “I Saw the Bright Shinies” before the driving beat of “Music Is Happiness”. The cascades of melody and speedy grooves of the popular song “Truck” provided the climax for the set. “Catalog” ended the night, with its high note arpeggios creating a euphoric scene for the building chords of melody and the enthusiastic crowd at the venue.