It’s not often these days that I’ll buy a physical CD. I don’t even have a CD player that works, just a CD drive on my computer. But in this case, CD was the only option. No vinyl, no digital download. I liked the two tracks that I’d already heard online, so I ordered the new Occupants CD.
Brothers Luke and Flynn Gower have teamed up with Leigh Davies to form The Occupants, an indie/electro/rock project that has arisen from the ashes of Cog and Sleep Parade.
Cog and Sleep Parade were major players in the Australian prog-rock scene, along with the likes of Karnivool, Butterfly Effect and Dead Letter Circus. The prog elements are still present with The Occupants, but there is more of an indie vibe than hard rock. Two tracks are over eight minutes long, and all the songs are epic, sprawling beauties. And Flynn Gower’s recognisably haunting high vocals still permeate the music.
The EP version of first track “Hindsight” is almost twice as long as the single version that was initially released. The song could easily be far shorter and still sound complete, but the way it cycles and builds, spaced out with brooding bridges – it all adds to the experience.
“Streets” is carried by fast percussion and noodling guitars. This track showcases exactly why Flynn Gower’s voice is so vital for the band. His vocals are the highlight of the track. They range from deep to almost-falsetto, laden with hooks and ear-worms.
“Wonderland” is more melancholic, built on a repeated mantra. The song features an eclectic range of instruments. Electric drums and synths make give a drum and bass feel at times, and a banjo solo leads into extended instrumental progressions.
To start with, début single “I’ve Been Thinking” could almost pass for an old Genesis song. Phil Collins is channeled through the drums and vocals, but without the dated 80’s feel. This doesn’t last throughout the whole song, but the ‘power-toms’ drumming and the chirpy keyboard features here and there.
Hindsight is sublime. I’ve been listening to it every day since it arrived in the mail. It’s not heavy or soft, just a delicate blend of melodies and riffs. There are so many layered subtle parts that new details begin to shine through with each listen, like the usage of horns and banjo. The vocals are the highlight for me, with Flynn’s voice being used as an extra instrument to dominate the high-end. They echo and soar, planting the melody firmly in my brain. Hindsight may only have four tracks, but it provides half an hour of brilliantly crafted music that leaves me wanting more.
Despite having already stated that I have no CD player, I think it was a good move buying this EP. There’s an element of exclusivity, not because I got a signed copy, but more because this EP shows so much promise. I feel like I’m let in on a secret, owning the first release from a band that clearly has bright futures ahead. Although Cog were a fairly notable band, they never got much attention here in New Zealand. I wonder if this new project will garner different results.