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Trip Lava - Octatroid CD (album) cover


Trip Lava


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.29 | 8 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars The Minnesota based artistic expression called TRIP LAVA is in reality the brainchild and sonic playing ground for multi- instrumentalist, composer and electronica geek Joel Lee who unleashed his first musical Frankenstein onto the world in 2007 with his debut 'Oddball In The Corner Pocket.' That album was basically a compilation of improvised 4-track jams that used various drum patterns, bass grooves and synthesizer noises that were worked out in drones, loops and bombastic weirdness. After many of these ideas were recorded, they were then arranged and tied together with even more strange sound effects to create sonic segues that wrapped the whole album into one humungous sonic journey into the bizarro-sphere. Sort of a mix between psychedelic rock, progressive electronic and Krautrock but seamlessly executed into one wild ride of freakery.

After three years of fine tuning his new batch of crazy psychedelic spawn, the sophomore album OCTAROID was released in 2010 and was quite similar in compositional construct with more improvised music that was tied together with even more various effects. The difference though was that this one was even MORE ambitious in that Lee shaped the music to conform to a conceptual sci-fi theme about a heroic robotic warrior named OCTATROID who helps to save a village from the former king Meldagar who once ruled in total tyranny. After being dethroned and exiled, the mad king, bent on revenge found a new home under a mountain where he constructed a secret robotic army to wreak havoc on his former subjects and usurp control once again. And then the war begins and here is the chaotic soundtrack to it.

OCTATROID is a completely instrumental album with absolutely no storyline laid out in vocal form whatsoever however the CD liner notes narrate the tale as it unfolds track by track and by reading each track, you can pretty much get the gist of the storyline. While this is cool and all, to be honest, instrumental concept albums always completely baffle me and i'd rather just think of this as random sounds battling it out on my speakers! However, for those who like these sort of conceptual things, it's a nice bonus touch. All in all, OCTATROID is a much busier and bombastic affair than TRIP LAVA's debut 'Oddball In The Corner Pocket.' The tempos are quickened and gallop like a herd of horses getting zapped in the ass by a lightning bolt and freaking the fock out. Lee obviously got more crazy, more ambitious and pulls out all the stops to create a ridiculous amount of sound effects with some of them being scary, some gleeful and some just spacey as friggin' hell.

Once again the music pretty much segues from one track to another with a dramatic theme unfolding and then connected with bizarre tempo effects, stereophonic ping ponging and acid blotter weirdness. In fact the whole thing comes off as somewhat of a sonic version of a fractal or something with steady rhythms and grooves spiraling off in myriad directions until all the sounds merge into a cacophonous soup. Overall this one is not as accessible upon first listen and requires a more active listening experience whereas the debut sorta skirted the line between mesmerizingly hypnotic and active. The first listen of this one left me cold as it completely passed me by since i was only half focused. Subsequent listens have yielded much more detail although it's quite a focusing experience as funky bass lines whiz by surrounded by a swarm of synthesized effects in a caffeinated schizoid dance to hell and back. The only calming track is the finale 'Peace Returns.' Guess who won the war!

TRIP LAVA is pretty unique actually. The cartoony setting reminds me a little of Buckethead's warped sense of humor as does the penchant for the most avant-garde and extreme sounds possible. This one is much less melodic overall than the debut and probably will lose all except the most hardened experimental rockers who love the incessant mixing it up of tempos, dynamics, timbres and weirdness. In fact, this is the kind of music that could cause seizures to anyone who can't tolerate strobe lights or something really intense like a roller coaster ride. These sounds are on steroids and unrelenting as they lambast the senses. For my tastes, i actually prefer the debut album but i'm in utter admiration of how this album is stitched together in all its avant-garde wackiness. This TRIP LAVA is one of a kind with an extra helping in the TRIP department!

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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