Occult. is the musical work of Ollie Lock from the United Kingdom. Occult. has released three projects in just over a month; Phoenix Lights on November 15th with label Yellow Flower, Village on December 15th with Substruct, and Dacha today, December 18th, on Fent Plates. Phoenix Lights is rooted in hip-hop, a style which appears subtly across the Occult. catalog. This five-track record, however, finds Occult. at ease within the hip-hop lexicon, able to shape the sound to fit his non-intrusive ethos. Village has ambient valleys and head-tossing high-points, but ultimately it's - as Substruct describes - “that organic cozy vibe that we’re all looking for this time of year.” Dacha is mighty impressive, fusing styles and probably offering the most direct example of Occult.’s garage background.
Many electronic music enthusiasts in the United States may not be familiar with the style called “garage” which originated in the United Kingdom. Occult. is both an accessible introduction to the genre for those who aren't familiar, and a refreshing nuanced take on the style for those who are. He stretches percussion-driven, dance-friendly sound across diverse influences from ambient to lo-fi hip-hop. Can any supremely talented electronic producer these days be boxed-in to one particular style? No, but garage does seem to be the staging ground for Occult’s sound. One word we can definitively paint across this music; “innovation”.
Much of Occult’s music is low-fidelity, particular his hip-hop work on Phoenix Lights. This little release could hold its own among any of the best lo-fi snippets released this side of the pond, though tunes like “Enoch” with it’s slight shuffle betray the producer’s roots in dance music, which is of course no fault. “Twin Lakes” off Village stones the listener with its low-fidelity ambiance. This track and most others on Village exemplify Occult’s faith in tone; pure, simple, omnipotent tone. His synthesizers and keys are rudimentary in terms of their sonic dimension. But through Occult.'s delicate and ultimately simple juxtaposition of tones, raw mood and power radiate from the music. Occult also leans heavily on white and ambient noise to construct dimension and depth within his mixes. Some sounds, like the ambient noise and half-intelligible vocals on “Flex101” from Dacha, are set deep into the mix. Others float near the surface.
Occult music is striking in its simplicity. There’s no trace of pretension, and no overt effort to impress upon the listener. It’s more like, “Here’s a groovy organization of sound. Enjoy, or don’t.” For the contemplative individual, it’s ideal. The music creates a psychological canvas for the listener to paint his or her own creative thoughts and reflections upon. The listening experience defined as much by the listener as by the musician himself. There’s a vocal sample in the tune "Pegasus" - perhaps our favorite song across the three releases - which speaks to this idea. This track is masterful, a synthesis of acid jazz and garage. An arpeggiated synthesizer turns cartwheels in the background while hi-hats shuffle in the foreground, and a saxophone rides through the middle atop of wave a lush bass. Occult. music may be intellectual, but it's also undeniably groovy and danceable. This is the killer combination that, at least for this listener, defines greatness in dance music; the summum bonum of electronica.
Each of these three prolific releases has been pressed to vinyl. Given the depth of composition, the low, vaguely defined sub bass, and the variety of ambient noise across this work, we're certain it will sound phenomenal on wax. Pick one up on the producer's Bandcamp account while they last, and stay chooned for new music from Occult. Maybe the producer will chill after dropping three phenomenal releases in just over a month. For some reason, though, we doubt it.