Self-described as "that band that hooked up their half-broken electronic shit all wrong," the Octopus Project somehow manages to discover the middle ground between catchiness and chaos. The Austin, Texas-based trio's debut release, Identification Parade (Peek-a-boo Records), finds them conjuring hooks and riffs from the oddest places; off-kilter melody lines collide with bursts of static, and drum machine engages drummer in a battle to the death. Although Octopus Project is far too rock to be called electronica, computer glitches and ghosts in the machine account for as much of the sound as guitars and drums.
Live, the band confuses and delights even more as the octopi trade off on at least a dozen instruments, often midsong. A typical number might begin with noodling keyboards, drum machine and percussion and end with live drums, two guitars and theremin, with three people having played bass along the way. It may not qualify as performance art, but watching the band members scramble to get to their instruments in time without falling out of sync becomes as much a part of the experience as the music coming from the stage. Sort of krautrock, sort of math rock and sort of futuristic electropop, the Octopus Project is tailor-made for Tortoise fans with really short attention spans.