Totally unrestrained creative expression is a standard that any artist would strive for. It just so happens that Atlanta quintet Hello Ocho has long since left that landmark in the rear view, hurtling through the cosmos like a psychedelic freighter with little regard for traditional song and genre forms.
The latest product of their efforts, the self-released sophomore album In Portuguese, is a sprawling, dramatic gem, a kaleidoscopic juggernaut of strange and brave proportions. Amidst the album’s warm, enveloping dissonance, subtle nods to pop, jazz, tropicalia, krautrock, and a profound cinematic Scope® find their way to the surface. Comparisons to Can, Deerhoof, Stereolab
The rich and varied story of Hello Ocho stretches back to 2010, when the band was a trio comprised of Chris Yonker (vocals, guitar), John Gregg (drums) and Clinton Callahan (bass). At that time, though, the band still had a fourth unofficial member – the computer. On their 2013 self-titled debut, the songwriting process consisted of each member finding a niche within a backing track used to set the mood, but the group has since ditched the relative comfort of computers and backing tracks in favor of newer members Chris Childs (vibraphone/percussion) and Christian Shepherd (synths, vocals). In Portuguese also features frequent collaborator Peter Webb on the Rhodes piano. The inclusion of Childs and Shepherd led to more organic compositions, and it opened the floodgates for the wild, tuneful experimentation that has become a hallmark of their sound.
Hello Ocho’s members have all come a long way since their humble beginnings – Yonker and Shepherd now run the prominent Atlanta art gallery and venue Mammal Gallery, and the other members perform in a dizzying array of other groups (Faun and a Pan Flute, Small Reactions, Aalborg Group, Palm Lines). Childs even conducts his own 28-piece chamber orchestra, the aptly named Chris Childs Orchestra. For all the changes, though, the one constant has been the calculated (yet somehow still reckless) abandon with which the group approaches songwriting.
In the recent past, the group played the second installment of Atlanta upstart (and SBTRKT collaborator) Raur
“Hello Ocho transports us to a more adventurous and erratic stage in our lives, where underground dance parties came in full excess; a time when no one was afraid to dress weird and get sweaty.”
– Indie Shuffle