Producer Octo Octa tempers moodiness with a genuine sense of wonder | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Producer Octo Octa tempers moodiness with a genuine sense of wonder 

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click to enlarge Octo Octa

Octo Octa

Jeffery McMahan

Much of the press surrounding Octo Octa has focused on her gender transition, as detailed in an expansive 2016 feature for Resident Advisor. Less noted, however, is the way Maya Bouldry-Morrison’s sound has spread its wings in the three years since her dimly lit minor masterpiece Between Two Selves (100% Silk). That record’s tracks are best identified through their reverb-heavy glaze, snippets of vocal samples, and the mournful undercurrent that slinks below Bouldry-Morrison’s deep house. But on recent singles and on “Move On (Let Go) (De-Stress Mix),” the first available track from her upcoming release on Honey Soundsystem, Where Are We Going?, she’s opened up, embracing more jacked-up grooves while tempering her moodiness with a sense of genuine wonder—the romanticism of her sound is now laced with hope instead of disappointment. That’s not to say Octo Octa is suddenly “happy”—she’s still got the emotional guardedness (and “chill” ambiguity) of someone just now venturing into the world of optimists. But for an artist who’s spent much of her musical career and life searching for an identity, a foothold to grasp onto, it’s heartwarming to hear her finally finding one.   v

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