A Journal Of The Dark Arts

Techno Tuesday: occurian – live ep [HTX096]

On HTX096, Portland’s occurian reminds us how inspired live electronic music can be.

Electronic music has a tendency to bring to mind the cold, calculated, nearly-clinical clean room hermeticism, especially in the 21st Century. Every element is buffed, polished, and shined with endless technological tools and pulled and stretched till it conforms to the grid.

This is particularly true of IDM, with its machine-like hyper-precision, its dizzying beats and synthetic melodies. It often impresses but can fail to move, to inspire, coming across more like the sound design for a busy racing level in a frantic superhero game than anything emotional or magical or intuitive.

On live ep, Portland’s occurian reminds us it need not be that way, with five inspired live recordings from immediately before and shortly after the COVID-19 quarantine. He reminds us how full of surprises live electronic music can be, how transportive, as he bends and pulls and stretches material from his debut EP, also on Heterodox Records, into glistening new alien shapes.

Take “Mannequin Bending,” stretched to nearly double its original length from a performance at Resistor II, its metallic clangs and otherworldly resonances made even more ethereal; its beats even more lumpen and strange, like springs sticking out of an old armchair.

live ep [HTX096] by occurian

Likewise “Tesseracts” is similarly elongated, made even more moody and exotic with koto-like synths given a cosmic Zen rain garden feel, while ponderous club beats crack like thunder in the distance.

live ep [HTX096] by occurian

Live electronic music is far less forgiving than the studio, where everything can be fixed in post and even the most miniscule detail can be agonized over to death. These five recordings on live ep are more like juggling shuriken on a tightrope, which may or may not be suspended over a vat of alligators, as occurian keeps rapid fire beats firing in machined precision while manipulating melodies and basslines by hand, creating luxuriously thick tarpits of sub-bass and heavenly synths. It requires the razor-sharp instincts of the DJ combined with technical mastery of their gear and knowledge of their own material.

The fact that these five recordings, alone, is proof positive occurian is one to watch, and catch live (or in livestream) whenever possible.

Full disclosure, i’ve recently started helping Heterodox Records a bit with press, as i’ve known some of the members the whole time i’ve lived in Portland. With that being said, my positive reviews cannot be bought, sold, or influenced. Secondly, i’m working with them because i like their music, and them as people, in the first place. Their review schedule is absolutely stacked for 2022, so expect to hear a lot more about all of this!

live ep is out now on Heterodox Records. There’s also a hyper-limited lathe cut 7″ of album opener “larimda” b/w album highlight “groundswell,” so hop on or forever hold your peace.

live ep [HTX096] by occurian

Heterodox Records

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