Meeting where the histories of post-punk, synth-pop and electronic music overlap, the work of Occurrence doesn’t have time for trends or tiresome labels. Built around a trio of artists — playwright-multi-instrumentalist Ken Urban and vocalists Cat Hollyer and Johnny Hager — the band offers a skewed perspective on the underlying associations of modern pop by utilizing a certain rhythmic subversion and malleable melodic adaptation. Within the landscapes of their albums, an innate introspection is highlighted, sharing room with thoughtful social indignation and incendiary political inclinations. And all of this is wound up in a furious blend of cascading voices and musical experimentation which informs their every movement.
The band will be releasing “If He Were Here,” a mini-LP which features a handful of new tracks and some remixes of songs from their most recent record, “Everyone Knows the Disaster is Coming.” Grammy-nominated engineer Jessica Thompson mastered the collection at NEATO Studios in Berkely, California. The band is gearing up for a show at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Nov. 3 where they’ll share these new songs. The concert will also find them collaborating with MIT lighting design and playwright students, with all proceeds from the evening going to various anti-gun violence organizations.
“Ending the senseless parade of school shootings is an issue close to everyone in the band. And we wanted to do something to help during a time when everything feels so helpless,” explains Urban.
On recent single, “Shiver Bed,” they mix an electro-clash beat with warbling electronics and a collection of ever-shifting melodies. First featured as part of their live set back in 2017, the track also possesses some of Hollyer’s most political lyrics, aiming to eviscerate and illuminate in equal measure. A further exploration of the musical synthesis in which they so comfortably disappear, the song is raised up by a propulsive percussive foundation and the band’s distinct desire to completely subvert any assumptions you might have — even those familiar with their past work will find something new and unique to dig into here. This isn’t some castoff demo, thrown together from scraps but is a fully formed wonder of interconnected emotions and rhythmic complexity. So, basically, it’s everything we’ve come to love and admire from them.