Bubblegum Octopus – The Album Formerly Known as “8-Legged Dance Moves” – 3.5/5
What would you get if you combined the most sugary, adorable, fun-loving and cutesy electropop music known to man (picopop) with Grindcore? No, this isn’t a trick question, and thanks to this solo project by Bubblegum Octopus, it’s not rhetorical either. And before you start with the ‘only the Japanese…’ line, they may be the masters of all things whacky and weird, but this artist being a New Jersey local is a little bit closer to home. With an 8-bit backing, grindcore song structures and silly soprano vocals, this may well be the birthing of the new chaotic electronic genre of ‘PicoGrind.’
Getting across precisely what this sounds like is not an easy task as it has been blended surprisingly well; the 8-bit soundtrack sounding like cybergrind might if it didn’t conjure images of a childhood spent playing the SNES, Game Boy or some other such console in an asinine and yet all too danceable manner; the humorous grindcore lyrics that are usually disguised by the growled vocals instead on display with the male soprano voice mocking a child yet to have hit puberty. In fact, the whole thing at times takes me back to the simpler times where I’d get angry at my parents for trying to drag me away from my gaming session; the banter between my pre-pubescent self and the snarling parents evident in both sides.
Perhaps most impressive about this combination is just how much common ground he has managed to find between the two, both genres frequently sharing a frantic pace but more interestingly is the lyrical themes. Preying heavily on silly and ridiculous stories, it is this thin thread that ties together the story within the tracks in manner almost reminiscent of ‘Carnival in Coal,’ playing out a short scene and rapidly transitioning between styles. With the tracks kept short they don’t become repetitive, and many of the tracks will initially provide a chuckle, even if it loses its impact on subsequent listens.
The basic beat used for much the albums 40 minute duration, despite often being rather addictive is simplistic enough that this too suffers on repeated listens. The 8-bit synthesised effects help to disguise the amateur production somewhat, but it also has the dual problem of often leaving the vocals feeling very raw, which whilst often works in the favour of music such as this, here only demonstrates his lack of vocal ability. This album feels more than just a novelty act even if the unlikely premise seems too absurd to take him seriously as a musician, resulting in a release of bizarre proportions that sadly loses its interest just a little too soon.
Highlights: God’s Pink Laser, Great Beard; Happy Moustache, You’re a Bad Cat Man