The latest OCTANT LP contains music performed by hand-built digitally controlled and solenoid actuated instruments. Steam, bellows, and clockwork would seem to be appropriate tools for the ghostly powers directing this orchestra of homemade acoustic automata. Brooklyn-based songwriter and tinkerer Matthew Steinke created these devices to accompany himself in a musical menagerie he has dubbed Octant. Menacing clouds of reverberating discord give way to toy piano chimes synchronized with chirping melodica, booming bass drum, and mournfully wheezing harmonium, all oddly juxtaposed with Steinke's warm guitar melodies. The songs lurch like a haunted Model T from childlike singsong to dense mechanized arrangements, from triumphal player-piano chaos to spare, melancholy chamber pop. Fractured and familiar, as full of nostalgic yearning and doomed hope as a Ouija-board encounter with a beloved departed grandparent, these unresolved gems suggest the sweet suffocation of an abandoned pawn shop crammed with all the relics that make up our shared musical imagination.
"…tender, cerebral music, aided by tiny, idiosyncratic robot companions who truly feel more like supportive band mates than automated devices"
– Benjamin Wigler for The Deli NY
"I can't fathom how one could properly put into words the performance but it was an unsuspectingly beautiful and oddly touching experience. How is it that a show comprised mostly of a robotic band provided far and away the most intimate show of CMJ 2010?"
– Avalanche Leed AP for The Sound of Indie
Octant was created in 1998 as the ongoing solo project of Matthew Steinke, the frontman of Olympia, Washington's Mocket and Seattle's Satisfact. He produced Miranda July's spoken word album, "The Binet Simon Tests". Octant has toured with and opened for The Black Heart Procession, Quasi, Miranda July, and Built to Spill. Steinke studied art and analog electronic music at The Evergreen State College, and received his MFA in Art and Technology Studies from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has exhibited and performed with his robotic inventions all over the country in festivals, academic institutions, art galleries, and rock venues.