- Breakbeats and house bangers delivered with a stirring personal message.
- One of the most emotional moments on Octo Octa's new album, Resonant Body, is a soaring breakbeat house tune called "Can You See Me?" Its atmosphere is deep and its melody tender, but the real tear-jerker is its repeated, burning line: "I know exactly how you feel." It could be the vocal on any retro-house jam, but in the hands of Octo Octa, this message of love carries a particular kind of sadness and overwhelming strength. It is, at least I imagine, a message of shared understanding for her fellow trans partner Eris Drew, who co-runs the album's label, T4T LUV NRG, and for her other, lifelong partner, Brooke, who made the record's cover art. It's also a message for her queer and gender non-conforming fans, though anyone who finds this record and feels isolated in some way can take the words with comfort.
More than other dance music artists, the combination of Maya Bouldry-Morrison's music and personal life is a meaningful symbol to her listeners. The artist came out as trans part-way through her public career, leaving a trail of LPs that address different periods of her lived experience, from before coming out (2013's Between Two Selves) to the freeing yet uneasy feeling afterwards (2017's Where Are We Going?). Resonant Body represents another development in her life, one that her audience should find inspiring. "This record is different from my other ones," the artist recently told Wonderland, "mostly because I'm just happier than I've been."
Indeed, Resonant Body is filled with joy and self-empowerment. Where the artist's past work felt delicate and introverted, this LP whips its untamed hair, gearing towards higher tempos, wilder breakbeats and more party-rocking vocal samples than before. Even with this more upbeat approach, the music still sounds distinctly like Bouldry-Morrison. "Imminent Spirit Arrival" and "Deep Connections" are characteristically lush and moody, but with bigger build-ups and bolder rhythms. "Power To The People" has familiar political themes, but it's delivered with a brighter sense of optimism. "My Body Is Powerful," a meditative soundscape inspired by the home the artist shares with her two lovers, is yet another stirring example of how she injects intimacy into her art.
Then there are the bangers, which Bouldry-Morrison pulls off better than ever. In part, this could be attributed to her bump in attitude, but a year of heavy DJing (instead of playing live) surely had its effect, too. The quirky, '90s-style house bombs are just the kind of crowd pleasers you'll hear her play. "Move Your Body" is the most celebratory, with a chopped and looped vocal that amplifies its rowdy groove. "Ecstatic Beat" is moodier but still massive, featuring rough breakbeats atop cascading chords. On "Spin Girl, Let's Activate!," she pulls out all the stops—bright piano stabs, cheesy yet exuberant vocal samples and a goofy downward slide in BPM. If T4T LUV NRG is all about putting out music for "DJing, dancing, kissing and crying," this record nails it.
01. Imminent Spirit Arrival
02. Move Your Body
03. Deep Connections
04. Spin Girl, Let's Activate!
05. Ecstatic Beat
06. Can You See Me?
07. My Body Is Powerful
08. Power To The People