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Thursday, January 29, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 32.0° F  Overcast
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The Octopus Project: Hexadecagon
(Peek-A-Boo Records)

"Sweet sixteen" is taking on a new meaning thanks to the Octopus Project, an experimental electronic-pop quartet from Austin, Texas. The title of its new album refers to the 16-sided shape, as well as the group's system of eight surround-sound channels and eight video channels, part of the 16-sided multimedia treat it presented at South By Southwest in March.

The disc, which serves as a soundtrack to this sensory spectacle, is the Octopus Project's most ambitious and accessible release yet, blending elements of prog, minimalist classical music, Krautrock and more with mathematical precision.

As the band splices, dices and loops short, ebullient melodies, their eclecticism keeps the musicians from sounding like a bunch of musical eggheads. Even the lengthiest track, the 11-minute "Circling," never gets stale, layering a slow, stoic melody atop 20 layers of lightning-fast piano.

You won't find any vocals, except for a few muddled syllables on album closer "Catalog." This song may be Hexadecagon's most exhilarating and its most disorienting, hinting at AIR-style elevator electronica until a tsunami of distorted guitars strikes, destroying the whimsical sonic layers the group has spent the past 45 minutes perfecting. Only in the last few seconds does the math return, restoring order to the chaos.

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