Nearly Oratorio – “Occlude” (Stereogum Premiere)

“Occlude” is one of those rare songs that manages to feel futuristic and organic at the same time. Though it begins with a series of slow, spacey synth lines, Melbourne artist Simon Lam builds its beat to remain steady while evading stagnancy through his inclusion of hand drums, and subsequent allusion to themes in world music.

For most good artists, there’s is a deliberate decision behind each aspect of a song, poem, painting, etc. And with a name like Nearly Oratorio, you can probably guess that Lam isn’t making empty aesthetic choices. Per Google, an Oratorio is “a large-scale musical work for orchestra and voices, typically a narrative on a religious theme, performed without the use of costumes, scenery, or action.”

No doubt attacking some larger themes in his work, the quiet and weary nature of Lam’s vocals relays the sense that there is a greater drama lying behind this track’s evenly mixed though extremely varied sounds, like an overwhelming culmination of a moments brought to a hush. With this, the song achieves the kind of distant intimacy that tells us of its own self awareness, its knowledge that any attempt to describe the ineffable is inherently futile. Still, there’s a small triumph in that perhaps by reaching towards and failing to express the inexpressible, we still achieve the most honest and accurate depiction of such a thing. Listen below.

Tin is out 4/11. Pre-order it here.