Self-described 'outsider torch singer' Mary Ocher performs at Analogue tonight | Bleader

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Self-described 'outsider torch singer' Mary Ocher performs at Analogue tonight

Posted By on 09.10.15 at 12:00 PM

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click to enlarge Mary Ocher is about to evolve into her final form. - HADAS HINKIS
  • Hadas Hinkis
  • Mary Ocher is about to evolve into her final form.

Born Mariya Ocheretianskaya in Moscow in 1986, Mary Ocher (pronounced "Oh-chur") moved to Israel with her family at age four, then to Berlin at 20. In 2011 she caught the attention of the inimitable King Khan at a karaoke bar (he also lives in Berlin), and she recorded what's still her most recent full-length of new material, 2013's Eden, at his Moon Studios.

He's not her only famous fan either: Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs contributed a quote to Ocher's press kit. "Mary Ocher gives me the chills," she says. "She frightens me with her feral soul. Her sound is of a true outsider artist, immaculately self-possessed. Was this recorded this century? Or out of a basement that's she's been imprisoned all her life?"

Her DIY roots and anything-goes aesthetic notwithstanding, Ocher is obviously too well-connected to qualify as an outsider. And she's definitely not locked in a basement—tonight at 10 PM, she plays a free show at Analogue in Logan Square as part of a solo North American tour. 

"Baby Indiana," the only track from Eden with a video, injects its acoustic dance trance with a vaguely Middle Eastern flavor. Ocher's broad vibrato and wildly slewing pitch center make her piercing voice sound giddy and a little loopy, but she uses the occasional dramatic overenunciation of a terminal consonant to ground it in an aura of ritual pronouncement.



In March of this year, Ocher released a digital-only two-volume collection of home recordings dating back to 2006. The Fictional Biography of Mary Ocher covers a dizzying amount of ground for music that sounds like it was made in a broom closet: its backing tracks include ghostly noise, sad but jaunty piano, frisky strumming, echoing ersatz funk, chintzy drum machine with vacuum-cleaner synth, and aimlessly gnawing distorted electric guitar. Ocher herself seems to have as many faces as a vaudeville performer: her multifarious singing leaps without warning from unhinged keening to warped drawling or from wobbly muttering to blustery declaiming.



Among tonight's openers is Gel Set, aka Laura "Lulu" Callier; I reviewed her first full-length, Human Salad, on the occasion of its release party in July. Ocher will be selling copies of a second edition of Eden, both on golden cassette tapes and on vinyl.


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