One of my favorite bands of the early nineties was October Project, who released only two albums during their brief stint under Sony/Epic Records.
The group started out in a garage in New Jersey during the late 80’s and soon began to flesh out their sound while performing at Yale University where songwriters Julie Flanders and vocalist/keyboardist Marina Belica took courses. And in a relatively short amount of time, the group found themselves on a major label.
The music, while never groundbreaking, was an undeniable force, much in part to their lush pop-meets-mild Celtic sounds and the unmistakable voice of its original lead singer, Mary Fahl, a one-time aspiring actress whose first professional singing break arrived when she was asked to join the group.
Also in the band came guitarist David Sabatino, who joined multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, Emil Adler and his wife, Julie Flanders, who wrote or co-wrote all of the band’s lyrics while keyboardist and vocalist Marina Belica added a nice compliment to Fahl’s singing. Rounding out the group was percussionist Urbano Sanchez.
When October Project’s debut album eventually arrived in 1993, its inception was slow to brew, but songs like ‘Bury My Lovely,’ ‘Ariel,’ and the Interview With A Vampire inspired ‘Take Me As I Am’ gave the new band notice, largely do to Fahl’s extraordinary vibrato, and distinguished them as something to watch.
Two years later, the band released Falling Further In, their second and final album under the Sony/Epic umbrella.
Produced by Peter Collins (Indigo Girls, Jewel, Rush), the album continued the group’s seamless brand of ethereal, harmonious pop and garnered them tours with acts like the Crash Test Dummies and Sarah McLachlan.
Falling Further In demonstrated the group’s penchant for radio-ready gems like ‘Deep As You Go’ and ‘Something More Than This,’ which were poetically simple and sweet, but carried the grandness of an epic story.
In just two weeks into the album’s release, Falling Further In broke into Billboard’s Top 200.Despite their slow, but growing success in the commercial world, the band was dropped from their label and the band soon went their separate ways.
Adler and Flanders continued to work together and released A Thousand Days as November Project. Belica released her solo EP decembergirl, but eventually the three of them would regroup for a third October Project release, Different Eyes, an EP which was released in 2003 and found Belica becoming the group’s new lead singer.
After Fahl left the group, she found work in commercial voice-overs, but it took several years before fans had an opportunity to hear her solo debut.
The Other Side Of Time arrived in 2003, a decade after October Project’s debut album and featured fourteen new songs Fahl had written with various collaborators. Two of the songs featured here – ‘Going Home’ and ‘The Dawning Of The Day’ – found themselves on soundtracks for the films Gods & Generals and The Guys respectively.
As a whole, the music on …Time is pleasant, but not very memorable. Fans of Lorenna McKennitt will find joy here, but fans of October Project’s first two albums may be a bit disappointed that most of the pop has given way to a more classical, elegant approach. Still, as always, Fahl’s deep-hollow voice is impeccable, reverberating through every note and I wager some fans would listen to her sing just about anything.
Since the album’s release, Fahl has performed throughout the country to support it and at this time, is presumably writing her follow-up record.
As for the remaining members of October Project… Adler, Flanders and Belica are currently preparing their new album and have plans for former members Sabatino and Sanchez to participate.