Album Reviews, Dance / Electro — February 25, 2013 at 11:45 am

REVIEW: Octover – Octover

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Artist Name: Octover
Title Name: Octover
Label: Syndicate
Reviewed by: Rory O’Maley

Octover, the alternative electronic duo of Vanessa Fernandez and Jason Tan, have quickly become a fixture of Singapore’s music scene. With years of creative experience between them, the duo’s Octover project aims to expand on styles overlooked by mainstream culture, a chord they hit well in their debut self-titled release.

From the get go the album avoids a continuous direction. The album starts with lead single “Satisfy”, a down tempo, sensual number that seamlessly blends pop, soul and experimental electro. Genre crossovers and collaborations are a big warning sign for me, but “Satisfy” comes off beautifully. What could potentially be a train wreck attempt never even nears the edge as Vanessa’s immaculate delivery and Jason’s considered production steer the tune through potential issues with ease. Even with the big risks involved the theme continues across the album.

Whether it’s the mechanical “I.A.M”, ambient ballad “Empty” or incredible beat and vocal reproduction of Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work”, snatches back fantastic tracks from possible disaster. Vanessa’s performance and versatility across the album is spectacular, switching between personas that are barely recognisable as the same artist. Tan’s production shows incredible restraint and beat making finesse as he creates an incredible depth of sound without the excessive, unnecessary layering that frequents the modern “future” scene.

For me it’s “Time” stands out as the the album’s strongest work. Centering around a future jazz style, the nine minute track slowly evolves and refrains, shifting in and out of calm soundscapes and frantic movement. Starting slow with chords, smooth bass and Vanessa’s smoky highs, “Time” builds in to a husky, fast paced jazz number smoothly and naturally, never rushing but keeping your full interest. The fast pace peaks with a perfect walking bassline before dropping the listener back into the comforting space of the tracks build. It’s a beautifully constructed track and carried off beautifully by the pair and some great sessionals.

It’s a fantastic album that certainly achieves the pair’s aim of originality with accessibility. Aside from a brief moment of let down during “Trois” which reminded me a little to much of Lady Marmalade in content and style, the album is beautifully crafted. Finally, after the LP’s majority, “Hurt” delivers some continuity bringing together many of the previous songs elements into a soulful, beat-y and almost industrial finale that closes the LP perfectly. The album is a great exploration of styles from two talented artists.

For a debut, Octover covers an amazing amount of ground in its 7 tracks and is definitely worth a listen. The album is out now under the Syndicate umbrella and available to stream or buy through Bandcamp and Deezer.

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