I was pretty confused when I originally heard that the Haxan Cloak had signed to Tri Angle Records last year. Like yeah, it was totally rad, but it just didn’t really make sense to me. Although both admittedly known for their dark approach to music, the textural experiments of the Haxan Cloak’s debut LP had nothing in common with the other artists on the label who were defined by spooky post witch house (I am well aware of how stupid what I just said was). Nonetheless, the confusion was soon replaced by anticipation as both the Haxan Cloak and Tri Angle are killer and I figured their joining of forces could only mean good things.
As always I was right. A few months ago, the Haxan Cloak dropped “The Mirror Reflecting Pt. 2” off of his new record, Excavation, and suddenly it all started coming together. The track mixes in traditional Haxan Cloak native instrument live recordings with a newfound emphasis on in-program production that results in something incredibly unique and fully realized. I loved the Haxan Cloak’s first record, but it’s deliberately difficult nature made the record a commitment, something you had to actively appreciate for it’s artistic worth. Excavation is by no means poppy but the payoff of listening to the record is a lot more immediate and identifiable. The Haxan Cloak sounded like an experiment, Excavation sounds like an album.
Texture has always been one of the main focuses of the Haxan Cloak throughout his short career. The self titled LP saw The Haxan Cloak attempting to tease out as many interesting textures as possible from a variety of aboriginal instruments native to his home country. With Excavation, takes this approach to the computer based, studio software level. And does he ever manage to achieve some fucked up results. It may just be my shitty headphones, but I cannot listen to this album above a certain volume because some of the frequencies and timbres that the Haxan Cloak manages to achieve on this record send little shocks of electricity through the headphones and into my earphones. It hurts like a bitch and the fact that I continue listening to this record with the frequency that I do (a lot) is a pretty good indication of how awesome it is (or how masochistic I am).
Sure, the record is dark (as any album about the journey of death would be), but darkness is not the goal as much as it is collateral damage along the way of getting there. Bobby Krlic (Haxan Cloak is not his real name guys) has stated in interviews that he sees this album more of an exploration of death than an overbearingly bleak view of it. If this is the case, Krlic actually seems fairly optimistic about the whole process. The first half of the record seems mournful and empty, like a soul that has lost its way. But come the last few tracks, a sense of melody is instilled in the tracks that ends up being almost catchy by the time closer “The Drop” comes around. It is Krlic’s mastery over the challenged conventions of darkness and light, ambience and melody, recorded music and produced music, that ultimately makes him one of the most interesting artists on the planet right now. Death is just another adventure, and everyone loves an adventure.
Ridiculous Made Up Genre of the Day: Hellectronica