(That may indeed be the case, but no need to labour the point, thank you….!)
You see, I had just posted my online agreement with Tom Artrocker (Editor-in-Chief of Artrocker magazine) that the days of ‘the album’ were numbered; that music buyers (unless hardcore fans of a particular band) would prefer in this digital age, to download only those tracks of an album that they really enjoyed. The inevitable ‘fillers’ would lie forever somewhere out there in the ethereal graveyard for unwanted songs.
And then, from nowhere comes ‘The Octopus.’ Like a lightning bolt sent from above to correct the errant and ignorant (my self-deprecation knows no bounds) it is the best argument that could ever be made against my case.
It will be very difficult indeed to do this album proper justice within the confines of a mere few paragraphs, but here goes nothing:
AMPLIFIER are new to me, although this is their third album. ‘The Octopus’ was three years in the making and is in the words of singer / guitarist Sel Balamir, not only their best effort to date, but “…very probably the best thing we will ever do.” Not only is that statement very refreshing and honest, but it actually reflects the music on this sixteen track, double CD.
Any album called ‘The’ something, immediately conveys the image of it being some sort of ‘concept’ album – a major project of some sort. And so it is with ‘The Octopus:’
“It’s the idea of something controlling you. Something closer to you than your skin but you’re not even aware of it…” says Sel.
Don’t expect me to elaborate on that, but suffice to say that many of the album tracks also confirm the notion of a Seventies style rock opus – ‘Minion’s Song;’ ‘Interglacial Spell;’ ‘The Wave;’ ‘The Octopus;’ ‘White Horses At Sea / Utopian Daydream;’ these are just some of the titles from he first CD.
The musical content backs this up too. The quiet and seemingly Krautrock-inspired electro sound of opener ‘The Runner,’ leads directly into the classical sounding, piano led waves of ‘Minion’s Song,’ before the volume and intensity is cranked up with the heavy and dark Led Zeppelin-esque guitar riffs of ‘Interglacial Spell.’
And so the whole album progresses, taking the listener on a fantasy inducing journey through several musical genres. From a touch of Spacerock, to Psyche, passing through Classic Rock and gentle acoustic musings and even a touch of blues inspiration here and there.
The individual track-lengths also evoke thoughts of Seventies styled ‘Prog Rock,’ with the sixteen tracks demanding two whole hours of the listener’s attention – that’s an average of seven and a half minutes per song!
Not many of us will have a full two hours free to sit and actually listen (as opposed to merely ‘hear’) this composition, but although each of the constituent tracks are highly listenable in their own right, it all just seems to make much more sense when listened to as a whole. It’s a perfect fit, and to bust I up into individual tracks for digital downloads would be a crime.
So I stand corrected!
In this day and age of (generally) such readily disposable music, it’s just so refreshing to see and hear a band expend such love and devotion on a quality production such as this.
(Released through AmpCorp on 31st January 2011)
*A Special Edition version will also be available, which will be limited to 500 copies only and is a 70 page CD book detailing ‘The Octopus.’ The band members will dedicate each of these in hand.
**The two CD set will also be available as a three disc vinyl release.