June 2024 issue: ‘Mancbeth’(Self released)
By Dale Kattack

Martin Andrews is certainly a musician possessed of grand ambition. Last year he released his ‘Gary’ album, an elaborate allegory for Brexit, featuring a lost weekend and a chip-obsessed seagull. Back under his Octavia Freud moniker and joined by The Weird Sisters– local luminaries Emma Hunter, Mila Todd, The Subtheory’s Cate Debu, The Bobo, Pet Twin and newcomer to the scene Kate Hicks– he presents ‘Mancbeth’, a retelling of the great Shakespeare tragedy transposed in to theManchester acid house scene of the early 90s and based on the concept by writer and actor David Lemberg; he’s already presented the album as a stage play at Modern Art Oxford.

Anyone familiar with the play will know The Weird Sisters are the witches of the story and their opening line “Fair is foul and foul is fair” gives this album’s opening track its title as it musically sets the mood for the whole piece with its suitably ominous synth lines, acid house squelches, stark post-punk guitar and Debu’s ghostly incantation. From here we leap into the more jarring ‘My Future’ with its Underworld vibes, and the swooning electro drenched dream pop of ‘Invincible’. And then onto the menacing bubbles, hisses and squeaks of ‘Scorpions’ and the bolshy bleep-punk of‘Long Live The King’ With King Duncan replaced in this story by a Mancunian drug lord and Lady Macbeth by a club DJ, everything quickly gets messy as murder and madness take over and the album races through the different acts with appropriate mood switches – from the celebratory ‘The King Is Dead’, through the uneasy, questioning ‘Sleep No More’ to the brooding, pensive ‘Double Trouble’ and onto the soulful, sultry ‘Sleepwalking’.

The different voices across the album keep things fresh; Andrews has certainly picked some of the absolute bests from the local scene while Hicks’ performances suggest she is a serious talent in the making. Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s shorter tragedies but even so, wrapping it up in under an hour of music is some feat, just one of the many impressive things about ‘Mancbeth’. While ‘Gary’ was a fun journey, its eclectic nature occasionally came off as scattergun, but with ‘Mancbeth’ Martin Andrews has created a wholly coherent piece of work that succeeds in all of its aims, from remaking the original story in a completely different form, to creating an often glorious kaleidoscope of electronic music that stretches in style from early synth pioneers like Fad Gadget, through New Order and John Carpenter, to hip hop and 90s and 00s techno, even managing to stop of at The Fall and Yard Act along the way. Macbeth might be a tragedy, but ‘Mancbeth’ is a triumph.


March 2024 issue:

"A pair of moody, driving-through-the-city-at night trackshere from electronic artist Martin Andrews, aka Octavia Freud, and vocal guests on this pair of singles, combining the darker end of 80s synth-pop with modern production sensibilities. ‘Fair is Foul’ (featuring Cate Debu) has melodic subtlety akin to The Human League, and a sense of negative space that creates a certain weight. Electronic arpeggios skitter around the long swathes of keyboard sounds that form the song’s base; carefully chosen guitar lines lead us from one place to the next.

‘Invincible’ (featuring The Bobo) ups the disco banger levels. It’s no hands-in-the air vacuous celebration though, and as with ‘Fair Is Foul’ suggests Octavia Freud has listened to a lot of Soft Cell and OMD. As a set, these two tracks work very well: a light/dark duo sharing a strong shared approach to electronic music. There’s nothing wrong with a pinch of pop at the right time."

Octavia Freud & The Weird Sisters - (The Bobo) featured on BBC Introducing in Oxfordshire.

EXCLUSIVE: Octavia Freud & The Weird Sisters ‘Fair is Foul’ Video Premiere

Octavia Freud & The Weird Sisters present Mancbeth, an electronica concept album that updates Shakespeare’s Macbeth to the dark underbelly of the club scene of 90s Manchester.‘Fair is Foul / Invincible ’is the lead double A single from the Mancbeth project due for release this Friday the 1st of March 2024. ‘Fair Is Foul’ features Cate De Buof electronica act The Subtheory and Invincible features Maria (The Bobo). It ripples and pulses with electronica and glimmering guitars. This gothic electro brew simmers with malevolent intent. Today, we are debuting the video for ‘Fair is Foul’ directed by Martin Andrews (Octavia Freud), watch it below.

Its introduction to the world of Mancbeth, a project with plans for a stage show, a film and an immersive multi-media experience. The concept of Mancbeth was devised by Mancunian actor and writer David Lemberg.

Martin Andrews (Octavia Freud), director for the Fair is Foul video said:  “To capture the essence of the Fair is Foul track I used the image of the witch alongside the spell-like word play of the opening lines from Macbeth, ‘fair is foul, and foul is fair, hover through the fog and filthy air’. The fast fx transitions reflect the album’s updating of events to the 90s club culture of Manchester and the words conjure up a Lowry-esque image of the smog filled streets of grim Mancunia. The video introduces a sense of foreboding for the fate of the tragic figure of Macbeth, nightclub owner, drug dealer and murderer.”

Originally hailing from Manchester and having been part of the legendary 90s club scene there, Martin Andrews is well known for hisOctavia Freud solo electronica project but for Mancbeth he has assembled a cast of rising stars that features top Oxford talents Emma Hunter, Kate Hicks, Maria (The Bobo), Mila Todd, Cate Debu and Pet Twin.