Songwriting is a funny, maddening thing. Two people can be of a like mind and still have problems penning tunes together. They’ll get all amp’d up on coffee and cocaine, smoke a doob and place a blank piece of paper on the table. Then they’ll start talking about eensy-weensy details like artistic direction, who sings what and for how long, resulting in disagreements that may or may not result in a John-Taupin-esque split. Then come the publishing-rights lawsuits: “I wrote the bridge of Song C, NOT the chrorus of Song B, you dullard! I’m going to sue the suede pants off of you!”
It’s a mess, it’s redundant, it’s... unprofessional, but musicians collaborate all the time because, in certain instances, two heads are better than one. In the case of The Octopus Project and Black Moth Super Rainbow, nearly a dozen heads are better than one, at least in theory. How The House of Apples and Eyeballs pans out for you depends on your tolerance for all manner of digital distraction. HEY, LOOK OUT! Some fucker just crashed a gong in your ear and ran off into the night laughing like a jackal. Don’t you hate that? Don’t worry, I got your back dog. OH FUCK ME JOGGING! Now there’s a poor approximation of a flute and what sounds like an electric drill fighting for purchase in the centre of your skull. Coulda done without that... AAAAHGBTPLST! More fucking flute loops! Isn’t it technically illegal to use faux flute more than once on an album? No? Well shit, someone needs to get on this... where’s Robert Shapiro when you need him? He never even called me back about my melodica suit against Clinic...
And so it goes, another M83-ish album flooding the market. And yet, this doesn’t feel like a Goodyear retread. As familiar as specific portions of Apples are — the bouncy tempos of Ratatat, the lush vibes of Dof, etc — this isn’t an album you could rightly call a continuation of any one scene, genre or style, save perhaps the canon of The Octopus Project. Sure, they bash your skull with fake flutes until you hate the instrument — or, more appropriately, the digital representation of it — but several instruments enter and exit the fray during a typical movement, lending variety and a fresh punch to most of the tracks. Did I mention there are 15 of them, btw? That’s two more than a baker’s dozen!
Not all collaborations bring forth much fruit. I can’t help but believe The Octopus Project and Black Moth Super Rainbow could have done more with their pairing, as many of these selections suffer from similar environs. However, they could have done a lot worse.
7Grant Purdum's Score