Sound Strider Gets Esoteric with New EP Occult Electric
It’s definitely going to take you a minute to get your head together after perusing Sound Strider’s latest release, Occult Electric. Better make ita solid 20 minutes, if not the greater part of an hour. The Red Tent Records producer melds a hodgepodge of sounds, tempos, textures, and vocal snippets in this 21 minute Extended Play session comprised of four cuts. It’s not just that the tracks themselves are out there—which they unequivocally are. It’s that after a single listen or a dozen, it’s difficult, if not exacting, to decipher exactly which direction he’s going in, what he’s trying to accomplish, and what listeners are supposed to get from these sonic sojourns.
None of which is necessarily a bad thing, particularly not on “Hail Eris”, which maintains a distinctive street feel throughout exactly four minutes and 20 seconds (that’s right, you read 4:20) of old school claps and synthesized bass lines. You can really picture Ozone or somebody twisting and pop locking to this one in the early 80’s, or even rolling ‘round just looking for someone or somebody to pick on. It’s the most coherent of all the songs, and most likely the only one deliberately meant to be so. It’s also the tune most likely to make heads bob, which isn’t easy when sampling the assorted vocal pallet of witchcraft, occultism, and tidbits of universal law at random points in time throughout the EP.
The next number, “Plague of Wizards”, picks up right where “Hail Eris” leaves off—but takes you on a whole different trajectory. Characterized by a Far Eastern vibe, this one guides listeners through heavy chords that materialize and immaterialize again throughout the song. The thing is, as is often the case on most of the set, soon as the producer really gets going with a good groove (or a riff, or a melody, etc.) he usually switches it up within eight, no more than 12 bars max. On tracks like “Wizards” he might’ve been better off letting some of them ride and simply adding to them or stripping them down for the sake of continuity.
However, as the titles of the other two tracks in the collection imply—“Helpless Cogs” and “Embracing Chaos”, respectively—continuity’s not necessarily a high priority for Sound Strider, which is cool. Occult Electric is music to definitely challenge the listener and a welcome break from much of popular music today.