At one point during Josh Lambert’s studies at The University of Texas, he tested boundaries in a few music theory classes, but left them for the wide open spaces rock ‘n’ roll allows.
“I got burnt out on that quickly,” Lambert said. “I felt like everyone in there was not really interested in music. They were interested in impressing people or whatever. We never talked about how music made you feel or why something was awesome. Just why this chord is augmented. It just didn’t jibe with me at the moment.”
Weaving fluid sonic landscapes, The Octopus Project’s latest album, “Hello, Avalanche,” contains elements of the formal in pretty piano lines and elements of the alien with a sci-fi theremin. The Austin, Texas-based band’s mostly instrumental songs owe part of their pivoting energies to the minds that voraciously accumulate music.
Lambert listens to everything. In a five-minute span, he’ll rotate German electro pioneers Kraftwerk and Texas heavy metal act The Sword. Considering he first heard The Velvet Underground and Nico’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties” when he was 14 years old while on a trip with his parents, one could expect his future band to search outside the verse/chorus/verse paradigm. But for Lambert ” the Project’s guitar player and keyboardist ” even the house and van are potential instruments.
“We’ll record anything around the house with a cool noise,” he said. “That’s kind of what we are about: figuring out new sounds from anywhere. We don’t really have any boundaries or anything.”
WARBLING ALIEN EFFECT
The theremin ” a type of early synthesizer responsible for the warbling alien effect in many Fifties B movies ” provides the closest thing to a signature element in “Hello, Avalanche.” At the Norman Music Festival earlier this year, the doll-dressed and ultra-focused Yvonne Lambert compelled audiences as she waved an outstretched hand over the instrument’s antenna like she was wielding a wand.
The Octopus Project’s music projects a digital wash that differs from club electronica, thanks largely to scattershot guitar tones and oscillating drum tempos. Josh Lambert said the band works closely together when recording, pushing away any snippets the members don’t all agree on.
“We tend to just start writing with kind of just exploring in mind,” he said. “More like a sculpture or something, when you have a hunk of something and you are trying to figure out what it is. You are trying to whittle things down. The end result becomes something, but we never start off with that in mind.”
The result is an atmosphere that’s ethereal by virtue of the instruments, but active and human by practice. The latest release gives the impression that Lambert hears music in his dreams ” and he does.
“Ninety-nine percent of the time, it turns out to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever made up,” he said. “I have dreams all the time where I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, this is the most amazing song I’ve ever heard.’ I’ll wake up and grab a keyboard and it’ll be so ridiculously stupid. It never works out.” “Danny Marroquin