Tuesday, June 1, 2010

10. The Octopus Project

We're going to hypothesize. And this is our hypothesis: Many people have a 10-15 year window when they care intensely about music. At some point, they lose that initial vigour. They still like music, but they don't love it quite as much. At least, we've noticed this tendency in ourselves and many of our friends.

Which brings us to the Octopus Project, the most exciting band we've discovered in the past few years. At first, its music -- being mainly instrumental -- was the perfect sonic accompaniment for reading on long commutes around Metro Vancouver. (We were shuttling between Burnaby, Coquitlam, Surrey, Vancouver, and West Vancouver). Before long, we were playing Octopus Project on a daily basis.

How we discovered the Octopus Project:
Wiley Wiggins' blog may have been the first place that we heard about the band. He is friends with some members, and he was playing keyboards for the Diagonals, who opened for the OP on a brief tour. (By the way, the Diagonals have a few catchy tunes of their own. Our favourite song of theirs is "Clones," which has a creepy, grin-inducing video.)

Why the Octopus Project is worth listening to:
There are plenty of adjectives that we could use to describe the band's music (e.g., whimsical, poppy, electronic, circuit bending, ethereal). But we'll try to avoid using too many vague descriptors. The Octopus Project creates music for all ages and situations. You have guests coming over? Cue up some OP! Need an aural pick-me-up? Give OP a shot! The Octopus Project could be the musical guest on a children's show in the morning (they could even bring some fantastic, kid-friendly props!), set toes tapping at a retirement home in the afternoon, and rock your city's coolest club in the evening.

Where to start:
One Ten Hundred Thousand Million (2005)
Hello, Avalanche (2007)

The albums:

If you want a quick taste of the Octopus Project, we'd recommend downloading (for free and legally! with good sound quality, no less!) the group's four song Daytrotter session. If you don't like the Daytrotter songs, you won't like the Octopus Project. If you want to hear more of this Austin-based band, you should get One Ten Hundred Thousand Million next. Follow that up with Hello, Avalanche.

It's difficult for us to compare the Octopus Project's albums. They're of a piece, but they have different flavours. You'll hear some keyboards, guitars, bass, and drums. You'll also hear some thermin, samples, and glockenspiel. Some of the songs are rhythmic and some are atmospheric.

Rather than describe the music, I'm just going to include a batch of videos. Luckily, the Octopus Project tends to have stellar videos.

"Exit Counslor" (from One Ten Hundred Thousand Million):

"Music is Happiness" (from One Ten Hundred Thousand Million)

"I Saw the Bright Shinies" (from Hello, Avalanche) [Our favourite video of the past couple years!]

"An Evening with Rthrtha" (from Hello, Avalanche)

"Truck" (from Hello, Avalanche)

"Wet Gold" (from Golden Beds EP)

After listening to these two albums, you'll (likely) want to delve into the rest of the Octopus Project's catalogue. Enjoy. (The group has a song called "Music is Happiness" for a good reason.)

Other listening/viewing:

Earlier this year, the Octopus Project played two free shows in a tent set up in the parking lot of a Whole Foods in Austin. It looks like it was an unbelievable event.

Here is the commercial for the shows:

... and some live footage: