The Return of a Legend
The underground is an insular community by its very nature. Its goals are not your goals, what is good to you does not matter to it, its legends are not your legends. That feels like an apt way to describe this record, legendary, a landmark achievement, a totem before you even listen to it. Because what this record does, is finally provide a new, full-length, all-original work from Deathprod, one of the ambient world’s most respected producers. The work itself, regardless of acclaim, is an achievement. Deathprod has not released an original full-length record in fifteen years, and after the teaser that was a remastered re-release of his first three albums back in 2017, there is finally new material.
Putting on the record, the first thing to notice compared to his previous works is the upfront aggression. Deathprod has always played with frightening noises. Deep, bassy rumbles and wet, synth squelches are not new elements to his work, but they have often been buried—little Easter Eggs waiting to be found by the listener. No longer, Occulting Disk kicks off vicious and stays that way, for a time at least. The opening track, “DISAPPEARANCE / REAPPEARANCE” sounds as though it could be part of the Stranger Things soundtrack. Its cutting synth notes rattle throughout the skull, and the long, aching pauses in between only invite more room for contemplation.
Taking up the bulk of the record, the “OCCULTATION” tracks fit more in the wheelhouse of Deathprod’s previous work. They are far more content to draw out its thesis, but even then they maintain a powerful atmosphere of tension. Whining synths appear and disappear throughout each of these tracks, often seeming far away or close up at random intervals. Each of these would serve perfectly in a horror movie. The synths are almost stalking listeners, revealing pieces of themselves before jumping out and cutting throats.
The closing two tracks, “BLACK TRANSIT OF JUPITER” and “OCCULTATION 8” serve as a powerful climax and denouement. Were this a movie, “BLACK TRANSIT OF JUPITER” would be the reveal and the chase. Unlike its closest analog on this album, “DISAPPEARANCE / REAPPEARANCE,” BLACK TRANSIT is unrelenting. Humming synths cut like sharp knives or shards of broken glass, their edges jagged and tearing. A wash of static, almost like something more expected from Prurient, slashes through the rattling chaos, punctuating the cacophony by providing areas of severe focus. “OCCULTATION 8” winds down the album with a calm, but still foreboding, structure. The worst of it appears to be over, the monster is gone, all is not well, but it’s good enough for now.
Legends don’t often return, and those that do regularly find themselves neutered, their teeth dulled by ages of iteration on their initial work. Deathprod finds no such issues. His music is as tremendous as it has ever been, and on Occulting Disk he carves a black swath into the earth. One can only hope this is just the beginning of a creative revitalization and not just a swan song.