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October Project


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Ethereal alternative pop

Status:

Most recent release, The Book of Rounds: 21 Songs of Grace (2015)

See also:

The new official October Project page

An October Project fan page

The Official November Project page

The Ectophiles' Guide entries for: November Project, a band co-founded by songwriters Julie Flanders & Emil Adler; Mary Fahl, their former singer who has now gone solo; and for Marina Belica's solo projects.

Comparisons:

Renaissance, Loreena McKennitt, Happy Rhodes, Grey Eye Glances (circa Eventide) = a lighter (original) October Project (not OP in its current incarnation)

Everyone mourning the demise of October Project needed to run right out and buy Sloan Wainwright's music. I think she sounds EXACTLY like Mary Fahl. (meth@smoe.org)

Sorry, but October Project, while excellent, don't remind me of Renaissance. Too folky. An electric Pentangle maybe. (pmcohen@voicenet.com)

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

In 2003 October Project re-formed around the voice of Marina Belica, and the songs of Julie Flanders and Emil Adler. The original band had broken up in 1996.

Their first albums are two of the most heartbreakingly beautiful albums ever. (larnep@pathfinder.com)

I worship at their feet, in spirit only now.... they could do no wrong in my book. If they were ever to get back together, I would buy any album they come out with, see them when I could. Mary Fahl is a dark and smoky goddess! (fleur)

October Project is (in my opinion) excellent, but they only released two albums before disbanding. They were kind of a cross between Loreena McKennitt and Happy Rhodes. (Patrick)

Comments about live performance:

I attended both shows in Southern California, so my views presented here are a conglomerate of the overall experience. First off, I don't know how strongly I can stress this, but October Project is one of those bands that really perform to thrill—they are one of the best live shows I've ever seen. Although their albums are great, they don't mean as much without the insight from seeing the band live. It's difficult to appreciate the complexity of the harmonics behind their instrumentation without a super-trained ear (which I do not possess) because all of its intricate little elements are so intimately woven together. If anyone's been to Loreena McKennitt's concert and have seen how her guitarist and fiddler work together, I'm sure you can relate. Another analogy would be to relate October Project's work to a classical orchestra piece in which the various instruments are masterfully conducted to create a perfectly flowing piece of art. DEFINITELY go see them if you can! Mary Fahl is probably the most talented vocalist I have ever seen. She has a dramatic range that stays consistent and strong through the entirety of the performance. After the first couple lines of the initial song, her voice stays at its optimal best and does not falter for a single note. She sings with passion and has incredible stage presence which demands attention from listeners and draws them near to a world that can only be described as sacred. Marina's sweet voice is the perfect complement to the strong and forceful voice of Mary Fahl. Marina's contribution adds another lulling quality to the sensual nature of the songs. Mr. Urbano Sanchez, as always, has the knack of rhythm and complete mastery of the percussions. Each passing note is perfectly drummed and well presented in the overall Project. With the addition of three additional players, October Project has added more depth to their live performance. An extra guitarist, Julian, seems to work extremely well to emphasize the melodious qualities of October Project. The new drummer, Craig, takes a little pressure and hustle off of Mr. Sanchez and adds strength and intensity to their songs. As a final note, after a few days have passed since their concerts, I should add that October Project's performance can be considered haunting in the sense that their live performance leaves an impression that lasts and is immediately recalled whenever their album is played. Furthermore, I've come to appreciate their albums more as a result of attending their concerts. The songs now come alive as if Mary Fahl was actually here to sing them to me.... (jason@ea.oac.uci.edu)

Well, October Project won me over last night. I've had the first album when it first came out, and bought the second one right after it came out, but still wasn't wildly enthused about them. I loved the music but there was something about Mary Fahl's voice that I just found annoying—it always sounded a little forced. But the last concert won me over. Mary Fahl's voice is really quite unique, and I think now I'll just be able to take it for what it is, instead of trying to compare her to others. The highlight of the evening was "Be My Hero"—which built to a pretty electrifying energetic high-point. She was also tickled because they had recently found out that Anne Rice had said she liked the film version of Interview With the Vampire, but that she didn't like the closing Guns n' Roses theme song and that they should have used October Project's "Take Me As I Am" (which is apparently based on the novel—a fact I hadn't realized). (jjhanson@att.net)

Recommended first album:

October Project

Recordings:


October Project

Release info:

1993—Epic/Sony

Availability:

Widely available

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Mary Fahl—vocals
Marina Belica—vocals, keyboards
David Sabatino—vocals, guitars
Emil Adler—vocals, keyboards
Julie Flanders—lyrics

Produced by:

Glenn Rosenstein

Comments:

I had read about October Project on the list, but I had no idea what to expect really. When I played it at home I was so happy I bought it—it's overwhelmingly beautiful! Even though I had the feeling that I might have to get used to Mary Fahl's voice at first. (Marion)

It sort of sounds like Sarah McLachlan and a million other Ecto artists combined into one. It's not particularly original, but "Bury My Lovely" and "Return to Me" are great songs. And the lead singer has a wonderful voice. (stuart@sph.emory.edu)

fairly mellow pop album of unremarkable musicality; however, the vocals of mary fahl, who i'd bet anyone a 500-cd-capacity rack is classically trained, set them apart from the average autumnal pop band. admittedly, i find her voice a wee bit too strained to listen to, but it's not too bad if you can swallow (heh) it. (woj@smoe.org)

They are very wonderful. I still cry when I hear "Bury My Lovely" which is one of the saddest songs I've ever heard. The rest of the songs are great too. (vickie@enteract.com)

The beauty of the three-part harmonies that this band used is very powerful. And there's something about the melody of "Bury My Lovely" as well. Something about a change of melody or a resolution of minor into major or something. Lovely. (colford@chlotrudis.org


Falling Further In

Release info:

1995—Epic/Sony

Availability:

Widely available

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Comments:

On two listens I have to say it blows their debut right out of the water. Standout tracks are "Sunday Morning Yellow Sky" and "Johnny". The general sound is similar to their first album, but with more of the final moment of the last track of October Project poured liberally over it. Some songs really come close to rocking out. And Mary Fahl's voice is as gorgeous as ever. Basically, if you weren't enamored by their sound on their first album you probably won't be interested in this, but if you loved them from the first, this sophomore album will have you jumping up and down to the beat in pure joy. (And they thank Sarah McLachlan in the liner notes! Whee!) (woj@smoe.org)

There is something about October Project that is depressing...after too much listening, their songs start to sound somewhat formulaic and predictable, and also pretty dark and a little too soulful for my tastes. I love their sound and the vocalist is *perfect* for these songs—she really emotes on stage. They have definitely carved a niche musically—although there were times when they sounded like a) oldish Genesis [trick of the tale era], b) newish Sarah McLachlan [Fumbling Towards Ecstasy-era], which I thought was nifty. When I said their latest album wasn't really great but wasn't a dud, I think it sounded kind of negative. Actually, I like this one quite a bit—but like their first CD, the darkness and depressingness of it will keep me from listening too much. What I should probably do is go thru it once with the lyric sheet, to at least get a better grasp of what the songs are exactly about—that might change my take on the doom and gloom. (mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

My initial reaction was somewhat negative. I thought it sounded too polished and kind of boring, but it has totally grown on me! Love Mary Fahl's voice! (abehrend@direct.ca)

I don't mind the darkness, there is sort of an elegant beauty in it. And after listening to the first album a lot, I tend to look at the songs as subtle variations on the same theme, both lyrically and musically. The new songs sounded good and slightly different, but they had a sameness too. Perhaps repeated listenings to the album versions would bring out subtleties that are more striking? (neal)

I was a bit disappointed with this CD when it was released...I love their first CD, its flowing, continuing melodies, and the lyrics, the harmonies, and everything, and was really looking forward to the follow-up. But this one's too rhythmic, edgy, rocky, the flowing stream seems to have stuck. I still don't like this one half as much as the first one, but it's growing. Who knows..."Sunday morning yellow sky" is my favourite track so far. (Marion)

To an extent, I guess it's just more of the same, but who cares? It'll be a while before I get tired of this band's wonderful sound! (burka@jeffrey.net)

Even better than their debut album! Mind-blowingly powerful, brilliantly performed, and catchy tunes to boot. Favorite track: "Sunday Morning Yellow Sky" (cmont@rci.rutgers.edu)

I finally got October Project's Falling Further In, thanks to all the discussions here. I put it on in the car last weekend and absolutely hated it...took it off immediately and put on something else. Tonight I put it on here at home and really got into it. I guess I was in the wrong mood for it last week. It really is very good, but she has a very distinctive voice that I wasn't prepared for at first listen. (carnivore@bigfoot.com)

I have totally fallen in love with Falling Further In.It has taken four years! I played this album now and again since I bought it in October '95, but it's taken a long time until I finally fell for it. I have re-discovered this album and played it almost constantly. It's a great loss this band does not exist anymore. (marcel@kimwilde.com)


different eyes

Release info:

2003—October Project—OP-EP-1001

Availability:

See website for availability

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans of October Project

Group members:

Marina Belica—lead vocals, keyboards
Julie Flanders—vocals, keyboards
Emil Adler—vocals, keyboards

Guest artists:

Spectrasonices, USB, BitHeadz Unity Session library—various samples and loops
Urbano Sanchez, Dave Sabatino—congas, guitar samples from OP's 1991 demo recording

Produced by:

Emil Adler

Comments:

The first cut, "the mind's eye", gave me hope and had the same pull at my heart as the old October Project did! Very thought-provoking lyrics! But as the ep went along, I felt the songs were too much the same in tempo...and the lyrics were starting to pall.
     Marina is singing lead vocals now. She has a very clear, lovely voice, the kind of voice that never requires you to have (although they are included) printed lyrics (which would put her in the same category, to me, as the great Joan Baez). In the previous incarnation of October Project, Marina was mostly relegated to harmony vocals, so this is a showcase for her voice.
     Harmonies are light and sweet.
     There is not the intensity, the urgency that was given to the "October Project sound" by Mary Fahl. Marina's voice *does* have more yearning in it on "see with different eyes", however.
     The only song that comes close to "rocking out", which at least has more of a BEAT, is "forget you".
     Here we have a "kinder, gentler", softer version of October Project than before. This ep is pleasant, but leaves me wanting more, still hungry. There are little hints of the incredible harmonies of the old October Project; but it was as if the band were holding back.
     If you are a Marina Belica fan, by all means get this ep! It is a showcase for her voice. If you are an October Project completist, get it. If you are looking for a rekindling of the old intense October Project fire, I would have to say, give this a pass. (fleur)


Thanks to Andrew Fries and fleur for their work on this entry.

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2016-06-23 15:58:21.
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