Where Are We Going? (2017)

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Octo Octa is Brooklyn-based house producer Maya Bouldry-Morrison; this is on Honey Tracks. First time with all concerned.

Begins with ‘Where Are We Going? Pt. 1’ sleek and urban, with a similar vibe to that Studio OST album from 2015. Opens out with ‘On Your Lips’ with some more colourful synths and manual percussion. Still pretty cool until by 2.10ish when a fluttering pipe melody arrives followed by some more percussive synths. From here WAWG? soars off toward a technicolour horizon.

Mixes on these tracks are busy and thick with resonant, rounded beats and melodies – sounds great on headphones but creates a great sense of space, expansion. Big and full, a feel like Lone’s Galaxy Garden (see the infectious synth loop on ‘Fleeting Moments of Freedom (Wooo)’, probably the album’s best) but with the simple joy I associate with Smallville. ‘Generous‘ is the word that keeps coming to mind; I think its the combination of indulgence and balance, ease without perishability.

Cluttered shuffle of ‘Until The Moon Sets’ (less percussive and more elaborate but yeeeah still reminds me of Mr. G’s ‘U Askin’?’). Surprising breaks on brief ‘No More Pain (Promises To A Younger Self)’, still maintains the bouncy mood with the help of some of soul vocals – pretty inaudible, something about “together”, which, obviously; but reading about the project and the construction of this song in particular as a combination of influences from B-M’s teenage years blends personality (check the cover; this following 2013’s coy Between Two Selves, with B-M coming out as trans in the interim) with the music’s inclusive feel (shining through the confusion a warming hope that the message will get through to some [check the title]). Breaks continue on ‘Move On (Let Go) – De-stress Mix’, somewhat a return to the sleek mood of the openers – this peak/trough sequencing is effective for a genre I don’t associate with the album format (B-M speaks of seeking to construct “an overtly queer message with the narrative built around it.”)

Buried vocal samples and balance of pensive engagement and communal ecstasy betray DJ Sprinkles influence. Much more immediately accessible, I think, though some acclimatisation. OO’s is quite a low-hit rate style for me but WAWG? pulls off a balancing act.

It can’t last — ‘Adrift’ trades in patient, ominous atmosphere, accretion; mood more like the back end of a techno set in Berlin. (interesting to read about B-M’s slow emergence into the scene, coming from idiosyncratic technical material to more extroverted fare) Tense but quite a departure. Ends with ‘Where Are We Going? Pt. 2’ Sober dawn, uncertainty. Tumbling piano line, flurry of vocal samples “do you feel better?” A lot at stake here: questions of personal identity and community, as well as the role of music in both, but if posed at me the answer would be yes.

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