Hearing Aide: Ocupanther’s Intrinsic Third Album, ‘Data Stretching’

ocupanther-data-stretchingTo mark the first day of autumn, Ocupanther released their third album, Data Stretching, showing a conscious evolution from last year’s release, Progressor, while continuing to hammer down a focused sound. Overall the record might fit into generalized categories like “dance”, “progressive” or “fusion”. But really, the excellence of Data Stretching comes in the details – the careful blending of seemingly unrelated influences, and a perfect balance of organic vs electronic – resulting in a danceable, intelligent record from start to finish.

Data Stretching‘s opening track, “Obtuse Snoot”, is perhaps the perfect calling for the album; patently danceable, featuring disco-staccato guitars drifting to washed out wah-funk, hold steady bass and tight-pocket drumming. The changes are inconspicuous but occur frequently, offering good variation without stopping the groove. This notion carries into albums second track, “III E III”, which is more subdued but equally as locomotive. The bass is swampy and warm, with guitar parts piercing through the darkness. For an album with such a big, full sound (arguably the fullest Ocupanther sound to date), Data Stretching does an exceptional job varying between minimalist components. This sentiment is exemplified on “III E III” as well as later on the album with “Yerkrewrun”, a meditative, calming song balanced equally with blues guitars licks. “Treat Me Like A Telescope” is another great example of such a balance, with strong electronic undertones and masterful weaving guitar lines that scream classic rock-n-roll.

All descriptors and classifications aside, what really defines an albums success is listenability and feel – two categories where Data Stretching scores an “A”. This record would be just as good alone in your car as it would at a house party. The variations in mood throughout the record are enough to keep the listener engaged without forcing feel-good vibes or lingering too long in the dark. This balance, along with the balance of genres and styles, appears to be the recipe for success. Fans of the New Deal to LCD Soundsystem to Maserati and everything in between will surely lock into this album, as will anyone who has traveled long highways for music. Ocupanther cut their teeth on the road, after all, and much of the album serves a perfect soundtrack for a roadtrip to and from a show with a carful of friends.

Ocupanther will be supporting Data Stretching in the Upstate area over the next two months, playing alongside notable acts such as Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, The New Mastersounds, and super-group Electron. A complete list of tour dates and additional information can be found at: Ocupanther.com or on Facebook.

Key Tracks: III E III, Treat Me Like A Telescope, The Great Oxygenation