“Something wicked this way comes…” :: Occult Research

More and more labels are turning to tapes. I remember my initial reaction: “Why?” Price being the obvious reason. But, the return to cassettes has allowed a variety of would-be artists and music promoters to get some hands on experience without the sinking investment of vinyl. There’s also the tactile quality of a tape, the honesty of its sound and also the fact that the once dead medium works quite well for sounds that aren’t so dancefloor centred.

Occult Research

Now not all of the above will apply to Occult Research, a US tape imprint, but some undoubtedly will. One not mentioned above which this stateside platform has taken advantage of is volume. Since opening its doors last year some eleven releases have been brought out, a fairly impressive stat. That number might become more impressive when you look at some of the names behind the mini-albums, FAH, Rolando Simmons’ Mattias Östling as Trackermatte and DJ VLR under his Liðvarð hood. Slowly a picture begins to form as to what this new name on the block is trying to do, bring together likeminded artists who have quite a fondness for Braindance, especially those with an acidic Analord angle.

The latest come from Face Culler. Lostlands is the Seattle based musician’s first physical release, and it doesn’t disappoint. A range of styles are gathered together and given a fair old jumble. Nostalgic 00s moments are doused in 303 showers. Drums dart and dive like children in a school yard. Immediate comparisons are Automatic Tasty and EOD, and I’m not comparing lightly. The eight track is wonderfully textured, enviably accomplished and clever. Ravier moments, speeding chords and blistering beats are also present but without becoming too much. I’d be pretty confident we’ll be hearing more from this debutant, and soon.

Likewise Bank XIV is a first time releaser, introducing his brand of electronics. VIII Circuli Putrida is a collection of eleven pieces, most just over two minutes long. Tracks are quick bursts of energy, melodies melting under time pressures as percussion ticks towards the end. Rhythms stagger in late night drunkenness, chords jab fists as keys change and day breaks. But even within the light lurks a darkness, an aural threat ready to lead the listener down the wrong alley.

How is Occult Research getting on? Very well is the short answer. Nearly all their releases are sold out, which is an incredible feat for an imprint in its infancy. And with quality like Bank XIV and Face Culler it’s not surprising. I would call some of the styles pursued nostalgic but that would be a disservice. The glitched up, re-fed acid and rolled electronica on show is not “brand new” but it is a style which was short-lived and a style that obviously still has a lot to say. Fitful, frenetic and fantastic machine music.

Explore Occult Research’s outputs on Bandcamp.

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