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The Octopus Project returns to extend its sonic tentacles around your indietronica-loving hearts and souls



The Octopus Project with Yellow Fever
8 p.m. Wednesday
Meacham Auditorium, Oklahoma Memorial Union
University of Oklahoma
900 Asp, Norman

Usually, a band writes songs before thinking of performing them live. But The Octopus Project hasn't ever prescribed to the normal formulas associated with being a band. Breaking another one only felt natural, and its newest record, "Hexadecagon," wasn't conceived as an album, but as a concert.

"We did it wanting to take on a new project, doing something different this time," said chief drummer Toto Miranda. "We wrote all the songs to be performed together, for a specific show. We came up with the format first, which was a surround-sound, eight-channel setup where we could manipulate the sounds and throw them around a circle ... kind of move them through space. We had that idea, figured out how to set up that sound system, and then wrote the songs."

The act's brand of experimental indietronica rarely features vocals, instead opting for offbeat instruments like the theremin and glockenspiel, and all four members switch up instrument duties throughout a given show.

But The Octopus Project's newest project is its most unusual and innovative: The show is comprised of eight channels each of audio and video, with an untraditional, circular setup of the band located in the middle of the audience. It was conceived to push the boundaries of music, as well as the physical nature of creating and receiving it. Think of the group members as amateur physicists who experiment with bass guitars instead of beakers.

"We came up with the multichannel setup so we could work with the dimension of space in the music and expand things that way, playing with not only the musical space, but physical space, too," Miranda said, "We play in the middle. We can throw sound across the room that creates this sonic swirl that jumps across the circular boundary around us. We can do anything, from subtle to bonkers."

After playing the show initially " which the group has re-created since " the members decided they liked the cohesive nature of the project enough to go ahead and restrict it into the boundaries of a recording, releasing the appropriately named "Hexadecagon" earlier this fall.

"It's a 16-sided object ... that's kind of referencing the show we wrote the album for, being that there were eight channels of sound and eight video images synchronized images," Miranda said. "But I don't really think of it in terms of number anymore. To me, it just sounds like some awesome, psychedelic fortress."

The band is unable to set up the circular format at every show " including tonight's at the University of Oklahoma in Norman " but The Octopus Project adapts to the venue. It may not always be an experiment, but Miranda promised it will be an experience.

"We want to do something that puts you in the moment," he said, "so that you can see something being created right in front of you with your very own eyes, and everyone feels like they are a part of making it." "Joshua Boydston

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