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7 December 2017

Ju Suk Reet Meate, Oblivia, SIXES, Sharkiface & Loachfillet ‎- 'Dr. Octopuss' (Fish Pies/BOC Sound Laboratories)

Five weirdo outsider types got together and made Dr. Octopuss, two side-long works of fucked-up sound interaction (or I guess it's one long composimprovisiation,  since it's listed as parts 1 and 2, but who knows for sure how it's meant to be taken?). Ju Suk and Oblivia are of course from Smegma and I don't know the others, but this certainly comes from a similar soundworld to Smegma – one that eschews not just all traditional musical patterns (notes, chords, harmony, rhythm etc.) but the orthodoxy of experimental and improvised music as well, if that makes any sense. I get the title mixed up with Dr. Octagon/Dr. Octagonecologyst, though that's about the only similarity beyond the mad scientist, inhuman theme. Actually I think it's the name of a misspelled Spider-Man villain, a mutation human-robot hybrid with scary mechanical tentacles if I remember correctly (no, I haven't seen the films). The hybrid human/machine concept carries over, but perhaps the malevolence is left behind, because this is a pretty fun trip, or maybe my baseline for fun is villanous. This record does have an underwater feel, as many of the layers are surrounded by a slow, encapsulating pulse, holding the rest of the sounds in a sort of permanent stasis. The electro/acoustic (human/machine? too simple, too simple) balance feels roughly 50/50, and with such a layered approach it's impossible to know who is responsible for which elements. It does feel like it was a live take, maybe even in front of an audience, and there are sampled elements (French media speech, other urban sounds) which impose the heaviest themes, even though they are used sparingly. Sometimes the fidelity makes these samples sound like they're coming from an unwatched television in an adjacent room, which is an eerie pathway to postmodernism which I heartily endorse. Whatever sounds were generated by traditional musical instruments, those sources are treated with all manners of household effects, which furthers the sense of otherworldliness. There's clearly keyboard and saxophones, occasionally getting into a dialogue against a mild oscillating background wind. Some moments are delicate and spare, but never exactly silent - an errant keyboard run or bumping bit of static will always poke through. It moves briskly through both sides, a concoction that is at once a unique meeting of some true American outsiders and also another run of the mill jam. This contradiction isn't a blessing but its an unavoidable conclusion when trying to remember the last time I actually listened to this.

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