This, more than any previous release by The Octopus Project, feels like an album in the truest sense. It's not so much eight distinct songs as one epic suite with mood swings. Undoubtedly the band's finest work.
"The trippiest, most elaborate thing the Octopus Project has ever done."
— The Austin American Statesman
After releasing 2007's Hello, Avalanche and netting praise from Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, Wired, Spin, Pitchfork and a zillion blogs, The Octopus Project settled into a relentless touring schedule that took the band to nine countries and a handful of major music festivals. Long drives soundtracked by minimal classic composers Terry Riley and Steve Reich led to thoughts about how to expand the scope of their own musical endeavors. Already known for concise blasts of experimental pop and a vibrant stage presence, The Octopus Project wanted to create a deeper sound, a more enveloping experience.
As an early experiment, the band scored original music to a series of short, psychedelic films from the previous century and performed the sold-out set in a favorite Austin art house theater. The overwhelmingly successful shows prompted invitations for repeat performances and talk of taking the production on the road. But the band was still in search of something bigger. They wanted to completely surround the audience with sound and vision — total immersion.
— USA Today
In late 2009, the band took some time off from touring to start writing new material and tinkering with electronics, and Hexadecagon began to take shape. The band members quickly realized that in order to achieve their creative vision, they would need more than the standard two-channel stereo audio and single projection. However, the equipment to pull this off didn't exist. So they built it. Using custom electronics (The Bend Matrix) and pushing existing software (Ableton Live, VDMX, OSCulator) to its limits, the band spent the next three months writing songs specifically for an eight-channel surround sound system and shooting video footage with Austin digital artist Wiley Wiggins.
With eight speakers arranged in a circle surrounding the audience, and the audience in turn surrounding the band at the center, The Octopus Project performed Hexadecagon twice to over-capacity crowds at SXSW 2010. Overhead, the music was accompanied by eight synchronized video projections. The performance required an integrated eight-channel audio and eight-channel video system, hence the name "Hexadecagon," the geometrical term for a sixteen-sided object — a sixteen-sided audiovisual panorama. The reception was emphatically positive.
"If there's a such thing as a happiness seizure, be prepared to have one."
— Paste Magazine
Buzzing from the performance, the band spent the next two months putting the songs to tape in their home studio, then mixed in Dallas with John Congleton (St. Vincent, Explosions In the Sky, Clinic, The Walkmen). The music is written to work in layers — originally for an audio canvas of eight-channels, but here re-arranged and re-orchestrated to create an engrossing experience for anyone with a pair of speakers (or headphones, ideally).
The first syncopated piano riff of "Fuguefat" only hints at the intense, vacillating montage of over 40 interwoven piano tracks which later appear in "Circling." This fervor gradually subsides into a vast sonic landscape where massive subterranean tones call and respond, and a lone, mournful Theremin wanders the domain in "Toneloop." That Theremin eventually finds companions among the colossal, soothing pulses of "Hallucinists," and album closer "Catalog" just might be a millennia-old transmission from a distant intelligent life form.
Peek-A-Boo Records is thrilled to release Hexadecagon on CD, 2xLP and digital formats on October 26, 2010.