I got a bit sidetracked in March while reviewing Octo Octa‘s For Lovers EP, for this very site. It was those damn drums. Dealing Jack. That breakcore heart—it calls out and I picked up. Couldn’t help it. I got took by those curling synths running all up and through “Bodies Meld Together.” And that uptempo emo flex? Sheeit. I got blinded. Caught up. Hypnotized. But let me tick some more people off here.
While the idea is not new, it’s rare for a contemporary artist—a millennial if you will—to dive into this era of music, specifically ’80s-style Chicago jacking house and breakbeat, the optimistic prism of euphoric rave. Excuse the overused term, but it feels honest when Maya Bouldry-Morrison does it. I’m not talking about some neon-clothing type shit—quintessential Reinforced Records from the early ’90s and whatever vinyl kept flying off the wall at Black Market Records in Soho, London from that era. The spot where DJs and producers Nicky Blackmarket and Ray Keith, drum ‘n’ bass royalty, put in 9-to-5 work before their DJ gigs. Do you feel me?
For all the kiddos on some hipster smooth lo-fi derivative who don’t know about chopped up “Amen” breaks, borrowed riffs, vocals, and melodies from classic disco tracks, but still wanna lay some type of bogus claim on electronic music? Know the foundation, or get out. Period. Resonant Body, Octo Octaʻs eight-track communique to gear devotees, with peaking red light frenzy and warehouse party love from a non-vaping era, flies directly in the face of whatever thee fuck is trending, now, in electronic music.
Back to the apology. On the opening track “I Need You”, from that For Lovers EP, Maya Bouldry-Morrison, who releases music as Octo Octa, recorded the first vocal performance since her transition. Coming out as trans in 2017, her deep gratitude cuts with candor: “This is for my friends / This is for my lovers/ This is for the people I care about”. It’s a sincere message conveyed to all her fans, no matter how they identify, hovering over a kick drum snare. I offer up, now, my most sincere apologies for not acknowledging such a human moment.
But Resonant Body slaps, hits and bumps like a mug. Bold. No wiggle room here. You are either all in for the bombastic joy that keeps unfolding snare after snare, or your ass is getting tossed out of the all-nite lock-in. All those ravey keyboard stabs in the declarative “Move Your Body” are not for the EDM childcare tents in the desert. Coloring-within-the-lines type shit stays in Vegas with the algorithms. “Ecstatic Beat”—a standout accomplishment of rolling breaks, Drum and Bass type low-end frequencies applying deep compression tactics, and chopped Amen snares giving the good nasty business-captures the feeling of shuddering drum machines going off. Simply put, it’s fantastic, chaotic bliss.
We can only hope for more of the same on upcoming releases from the T4T LUV NRG label co-run by Morrison and her partner Eris Drew, who, this past June, dropped her own larger than life mix. Raving Disco Breaks Vol. 1, the first release for their boutique label, loaded with Miami Bass jams, boogie keys, rave tunes and disco vocals, utilizes turntable techniques such as “doubles” tricks and “hot mixing.” These turntablism techniques inspired by Chicago radio DJs, give way to another sweaty and joyful existence. Keep mashing Maya. We see you.
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to Treble since 2018. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in The Wire, 48 Hills, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK and Drowned In Sound.