Friday, 9 August 2013

The Haxan Cloak- Excavation

Artist: The Haxan Cloak
Album: Excavation
Record Label: Tri Angle Records

Bobby Krlic's more electronic trajectory on "Excavation" sees a new sonic side to his terrifyingly dark soundscapes

As far as the concept of the one man project ethos goes, Bobby Krlic, aka The Haxan Cloak, is an example of a man who is doing it right. Perhaps most crucially to this ethos, he makes music primarily for himself, therefore making room for the premise that it's an added bonus if anybody else likes it. As we saw on his self- titled debut in 2011, it's an approach that allows him to arrange and compose songs to exactly how he thinks they should fit, a necessary nuance of the private narcissism that comes with working alone.

"Excavation", his second full- length, sees him abide by the same rules, but with a much more electronic formula at hand. If that sounds like The Haxan Cloak's music has lost the Midas- like presence of his genre- hopping debut then fear not; "Excavation" is still varying degrees of "bloody terrifying." "Excavation Pt. 1" sounds like being chased around an abandoned construction site at 3 in the morning by a serial killer with no clear exit. It's spacious but with plenty of progressive percussive elements to ensure it doesn't lose focus. "Excavation Pt. 2" is even more nightmarish with its ear- drum puncturing bass and screeching, robotic scree before becoming an eerily twinkling overture. "Mara" is comprised of pounding stabs of drums behind torturous violin interjections and Horror- Movie- esque drones.

If there's one track here that seems to encompass all of Krlic's musical ambition (and sees it executed near- perfectly) it's "The Mirror Reflecting Pt. 2". It has enormous presence right from the dark, guttural keys and Nintendo- esque synths at the beginning to the creepily mournful violins in the mid- section to the layers of thick but faded out and hazy rave- esque synths that intertwine at the end. It's a majestic listening experience. 

"Dieu" is perhaps the most dance- orientated moment here, relying largely on ambidextrous drum samples, minimal synths and distant, alienating vocal yelps to pursue its momentum. "The Drop" begins with beautiful layers of reflective keys before descending into dark acoustics and then even further into unnerving ritualistic, tribal territory. 

It's true that as a whole piece, "Excavation" may not always have the overbearing musicianship or unique presence of "The Haxan Cloak." However it marries the dark and beautiful rather successfully throughout, and in still considerably incomparable fettle. It'll give you that "nails on a blackboard feeling", but in a way that is intensely inviting, as well as quiveringly uncomfortable. 

Key Tracks: The Mirror Reflecting Pt. 2, Dieu, The Drop
For fans of: Andy Stott, Actress, Demdike Stare


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