Serenity is the mood at the beginning on the first of the six tracks. They are all quite lengthy but do not overstay their welcome. There is a certain weighting or episodic sense to the way Duopoly pianists Kris Davis and Craig Taborn interact on this live record together that lays bait, hooks and reels your interest in.
An absorbing thrusting tonal wave of sound complete with warm colours that wash dense dissonances in a churning tide, a disciplined mood duly conjured, the album was recorded, complete with the sound of an audience in appropriate spots, in Ann Arbor, Columbus and San Diego, and the so-monikered mollusc’s tunes are from each of the artists (two in an ‘Interruptions’ series by Taborn for instance) plus Carla Bley’s beautifully understated deftly plangent ‘Sing Me Softly of the Blues’– recorded by Art Farmer on his quartet album of the same name – and Sun Ra’s ‘Love in Outer Space’.
There is no knotty tangling that you get inevitably on some two-piano records, and neither is there any look-at-me showing off. Instead there is a sense of two elaborately absorbing stories that sit alongside each other and each of the stories has more than one narrator; sometimes the narrators are aware of each other and seem to acknowledge the other’s presence but just as often they aren't or don't. You may disagree and see an overall story play out and it is all like one person. I can go along with that certainly in terms of rapport. Octopus is very abstract, and you will not come away whistling any melody or thrilling to a riff and that is not a problem at all. Beyond chromaticism the pair create a mood that is unsettling yes and there is an eternal question mark about their approach only answered by you the listener when you digest what you are hearing and respond. Words are not necessary, this music will invade you and that is far more satisfying as is a sweet surrendering to its siren call. Stephen Graham
Corrected: the ‘Interruptions’ series are by Craig Taborn, and not as previously stated. Apologies.