It’s all about damages and consequences and violence – at least those were the overriding themes that New York electro-pop trio Occurrence were trying to explore during the writing and recording of their fourth record, the recently announced Slow Violence. Due out April 7 via Archie & Fox Records, the 22-song double album finds them using author and Princeton professor Rob Nixon’s concept of “slow violence”, the idea that the invisible damages the West perpetuates against developing countries can take years, even decades, to come to fruition, as a way to examine the consequences of past decisions in their individual lives.
Can we trace misery back to a single decision? Is our emotional well-being directly tied to countless moments where we had to pick one thing over another, one love over another? Slow Violence is the band’s way of addressing these ideas and coming to terms with the fact that the answer is as elusive as smoke slipping between your fingers. Built around the collective talents of Ken Urban, Cat Hollyer, and Johnny Hager, the Washington Heights-based group uses the elastic textures and euphoric tones of pop music to dig into questions of emotional inevitability and personal responsibility.
The band’s new single, “Fudge”, looks at the more salacious aspects of affection and desire, blending vivid electro-pop with static-laced industrial rhythms – bringing to mind Trent Rezner performing with Cut Copy. It creates an incessant buzzing in your ears, the sound of dozens of bees freaking out on the dancefloor at 2 am. You become trapped in a world of physical need and sexual longing that’s impossible to ignore and even more difficult to escape from. There’s a seedy quality to the music and to Hollyer’s yearning vocals, but it draws you with the promise of something forbidden, something you’ve never experienced before.
“’Fudge’ initially started life as another song,” Urban explains. “After we mixed it, we all agreed that it wasn’t working. But I knew there was something about Cat’s vocals in that track… She opened about sexual desire in a way that’s hard to do in such an honest way. I took that original vocal and built this new song around it. I did most of the work on an Amtrak train. Cause I didn’t have all my usual gear in our studio, it forced me to get creative. When I distorted the kick, I realized it created a bass line. That cracked opened the song for me. I left some of the studio chatter in because it captured Cat’s embarrassment at what she just sang. That’s the push and pull of the song. Want and fear. Desire and repulsion. But in the end, desire wins. As it always does.”
The accompanying video, directed by Tato Giligashvili emphasizes the lasciviousness of the song’s lyrics, keeping its focus on Hollyer’s mouth as she sings and eventually cedes the spotlight to other mouths and their consumption of unidentified foods. It’s an odd contrast, ruby red lips juxtaposed against spoonfuls of unknown mush, and it makes for something slightly unsettling — a kind of Lynchian terror that plays against expectations and makes you feel uncomfortable while you try to make sense of it all.
Watch it below.
Occurrence’s new album, Slow Violence, is due April 7 on Archie & Fox Records. You can follow the band on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.