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Trip Lava - Octatroid CD (album) cover

OCTATROID

Trip Lava

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.17 | 7 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'Octatroid' - Trip Lava (6/10)

Composer Joel Lee goes for a second spin with his Trip Lava project. With his debut, Joel achieved an interesting, but scattered collection of jams. His talent as a musician was certainly there, but there was an added sense of direction needed in order to give his work that sense of 'album completion' that many progressive artists strive for. To that end, Joel's second album 'Octatroid' is a giant step in regards to album flow. Although it's safe to say that this second album is not a full head above its predecessor, 'Octatroid' represents a more matured Trip Lava.

Musically speaking, 'Octatroid' now focuses more on the electronic element of Trip Lava than was heard of 'Oddball In The Corner Pocket', which capitalized on Joel's talents with the guitar. 'Octatroid' maintains Trip Lava's sound, but approaches it from a much different angle. There is a simultaneously a greater sense of composition and noisier sound to this one. 'Octatroid' most notable victory over 'Oddball' is in regards to its flow. Although there are thirteen tracks here, they all roll along as one epic piece. In fact, 'Octatroid' is a concept album of sorts. Although there are no lyrics to push a story along, Joel tells a very simple sci-fi tale through the tone of the music and album booklet. In summary, an evil overlord builds a robot to attack a helpless village, and the eponymous hero mechanique Octatroid steps in to the rescue. Without spoiling anything, Octatroid saves the day. It's a plot that a thousand bad science fiction movies have covered before, but the depth of the story is not the point of 'Octatroid'. What makes the concept aspect of the album work so well is the fact that each track is able to reflect the plot so well. Although it may be difficult to gather any but the most basic elements of the story without the help of the booklet, Joel uses sound effects, changes of tone and mood, and droning build-ups to convey the plight of Octatroid. Without a doubt, this is the album's biggest selling point, and makes me want to check out more instrumental concept albums that tell stories in similar fashion.

I agree with the general consensus that 'Octatroid' is a more challenging effort than we have heard before from Joel Lee. This time around, the music is much more sonic and dense, sometimes reverting to a barrage of noise. All of this manages to contribute to the concept, but it's clear that not all of Trip Lava's ideas work. With heavy influences in Krautrock and lo- fi ambient, Trip Lava's electronic elements are the focus here, ousting the guitar from any semblance of importance. Joel Lee is very good at arranging a vast, chaotic sound, but after a while, it becomes difficult to focus on the sonic complexity, and easier to 'tune out', in a sense. It's not to say that Trip Lava's music is boring- it's a challenging piece of music- but for long stretches, the music gets monotonous. The electronic noise also gets taken out of hand quite a few times on the record. The excessive bursts of noise wear thin quickly, but there are ultimately few bumps on the road. 'Octatroid's sound never jumps out at me or gives me chills, but it's a very interesting experiment with a bucket of atmosphere to go along with it. I cannot say that 'Octatroid' is that much better than 'Oddball In The Corner Pocket' though, because while this latest effort is more ambitious, it also falters more than the debut. In any case, for fans of noisy rock or Kraut, 'Octatroid' is well-worth listening to.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |

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