petak, 10. svibnja 2013.

The Haxan Cloak - Excavation (2013)

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Bobby Krlic's first album as The Haxan Cloak came out on Aurora Borealis, a metal-focused label that's also home to Justin Broadrick and KTL. He's since moved in a more electronic direction, bridging the gap between the noisy spasms of Cut Hands and the dignified doom of Raime. Excavation, his second full-length and first for Tri Angle, sits perfectly in the middle.
Where Krlic's first album seemed consumed by a fear of death, Excavation is reportedly meant to survey the vastness of the afterlife. This concept penetrates deep into the album's sound: gone are the earthen strings and woodwinds, the hideous shudder that made his earlier music so frighteningly lifelike. Instead, we get negative space, labyrinthine composition and synth-driven melodies that explode from quiet to loud like a thriller soundtrack. It doesn't make an effort to grab you, unless it's by the throat, like the low-end depth charges that shake up the sludgy squirm of "Mara."
Krlic takes full advantage of the album form, often stretching his songs to more than ten minutes. The result is something truly narrative—this isn't the kind of record you'd play on shuffle. In the title track's two parts, we're taken through a sonorous tunnel only to be dumped into an empty pit of despair, all static and hissing hellmouths. With "The Mirroring," those dissociative drones collect themselves back into fire-and-brimstone techno. These longer sections are punctuated by pockets of sonic violence such as "Miste" and "Dieu," interludes that feel like vignettes between the longer passages of plot development.
Even with dissonant screeches and static, Excavation is always more thrilling than it is alienating. It's not just neutered noise music—it's extreme. But there's something in his touch that renders it approachable and emotive instead of antisocial. It's a tendency that takes over on the 13-minute closer "The Drop," where a simple riff unravels itself in sandpapery tones, growing more devastated with every turn. Considering what came before, it feels rebellious, almost post-rock—a sudden return of the organic textures from his first album. More importantly, it's a stirring finale, cutting to the bone not with horror or violence but pure emotion. He might have translated his sound into electronics with Excavation, but here Krlic's music feels more wrenchingly human than it ever has been.-

Bobby Krlic returns with his hugely anticipated second album as The Haxan Cloak, and his first for Tri Angle. It's an unrelentingly bleak offering that will satisfy fans of his terrific Aurora Borealis debut, but it also has a more electronic, rhythmic feel befitting of his new label and which will potentially appeal to an even wider audience. Though it was supposedly conceived to soundtrack a soul's journey beyond this mortal coil, don't come at it expecting some blissed-out amble through Elysium; Krlic's vision of the afterlife is a decidedly gloomy and abyssal, an all-out descent into the underworld. Before you've even had a chance to get your bearings, 'Consumed' sucks you straight into a pitch-black and bottomless cave, ectoplasm dripping from its walls, ghouls circling overhead, warped bass and martial drum thumps beckoning you further into the nightmare. The presence of miasmic vocal tones and music-box chimes serves only to make the two-part 'Excavation' more terrifying, while the percussion settles into a zombie andante that reminds us of Burial, Holy Other and Scorn all at once. 'Mara' is a cunning, advanced synthesis of pin-drop sensitivity, sub-low heft and doom-metal brutality that inevitably recalls the spirit-wartorn landscapes of last year's Raime album, while 'Miste' and 'The Mirror Reflecting (Part 1)' explore the same fetid witch-crypts and burial chambers of vintage Lustmord. 'The Mirror Reflecting (Part 2)' and 'Dieu' initiate the album's climactic sequence, in which Krlic finally calls - explicitly - upon the neo-classical chops that characterised his debut: on the former, rotary strings and cooing synths make a rueful appeal to the gods, but the hope of redemption is soon extinguished by the scything drones and quivering giallo cello of 'Dieu' - you know they're willing you to hell, but you can't help but be seduced. Don't worry, closing number 'The Drop' isn't a stadium dubstep bolt-on, but rather a 12-minute epic that might just be the most fiendishly focussed and complete creation in the Haxan canon: a stunning fusion of elegiac chamber music, iron-fist industrial rhythm and widescreen cosmic dread, perfectly shaped and modulated to blow minds and empty bowels. - boomkat

Death isn't going to come easy for Bobby Krlic, the London-based producer who records as the Haxan Cloak. At least he has Excavation, a sort of multifaceted roadmap of the afterlife, to guide him. This record, his first for Tri Angle, is about the journey taken after death, making it a sequel to his eponymous 2011 debut, which was themed around someone approaching their final days on the planet. Both albums are imagined, instrumental quests, drawn out through electronic compositions with occasional strings. The first record came close to twisted Wicker Man folk at times. This one plunges into a blackened well and never gets out. There is no light relief from Krlic's malaise, no sense that we won't be here some day and there's a place at the end of it all where we might find peace. Excavation is quite the opposite. It paints death as a terrifying, complex process, full of confounding turns and illogical rhythms.
Krlic isn't exactly working in isolation as the Haxan Cloak; he has peers in Demdike Stare's drone-shaped darkness, and he's in a similar orbit to the digital trudge-to-oblivion practiced by fellow Londoners Raime. But while Excavation continues a theme, it goes to more expansive places than anything that bears vaguely similar properties. It's bold and domineering, the kind of music that towers over you and casts a giant, intimidating shadow. There's a magical quality to it, drawn from its transportive nature. It's hard to imagine this being put together in someone's bedroom or a crappy studio, mainly because it's so far withdrawn from the everyday. Krlic has far grander thoughts in mind. He is, after all, building a whole world here, one full of mysterious scratch marks on walls, bloodstained carpets, or the noose tossed into view on the album's cover.
Excavation is more soundtrack than regular album, pulling on familiar tropes from the horror world such as the sudden escalation of strings that lead to a stony silence in "Consumed". But Krlic doesn't follow a straight path at any point, instead setting muted rhythms in progress and disrupting them just when it feels like you've got a handle on where he's going. The depth is quite extraordinary at times, largely due to the bottomless bass Krlic deploys, helping to depict the afterlife as a relentless slog. In many religions death is seen as a destination, but here it's a struggle, another journey, a new set of circumstances with which to grapple. There's a strong sense of deterioration, of things falling apart. When "Excavation (Part 2)" plunges into the quiet it feels like Krlic's carefully constructed world faded away, only for it to segue into the queasy strings that beckon in the following "Mara" that confirm: yes, you are still here in his personal hell.
It's an album sequenced with a central narrative in mind, and one that's not without glimmers of hope at key junctures. "The Mirror Reflecting (Part 2)" and "The Drop" are key tracks, both deploying lighter textures that symbolize a form of redemption from the sooty gloom that eats at the edges of the Haxan Cloak. They come toward the close of the record, suggesting that some kind of unsteady peace has been made in this particular form of purgatory. It adds a resigned air to the album, a sense of accepting fate no matter how bad it may be. Krlic brings the strings into greater view once again during "The Drop", heightening the feelings of sadness and empathy that slowly guide us away from the inky path of all-out grief and dejection. Still, the bass hits continue to punch in that sinking feeling and the beats add a dramatic flourish, always emphasizing that this is a place of sickness, not security.
With music we like, we often talk about the compulsion to come back to it, that need to hit the repeat button as soon as it's over. But music you need a break from can be equally powerful. Excavation has that air, of a place that actually needs some preparation before entering into it. It's not aesthetically similar to Scott Walker's later works, but it similarly highlights how certain music specifically needs the right time, place, and mood to function. Krlic even seems to know it himself, commenting in his Rising feature about the effects of his nine-hour-straight recording sessions. "Being in that zone for that long can freak you out," he said. Instead, Excavation gains power from gathering a little dust for a while, becoming a dark treat to occasionally sink into. It's not a place in which to seek refuge from life's ills, but rather one in which you can satisfy a perverse need to draw them in closer. - Nick Neyland
   When we die, we probably just die. No harp-wielding cherubs. No 72 virgins. No God that looks or sounds like Morgan Freeman. No God at all, in fact.
This hasn’t stopped countless artists, writers and religious mumbo-jumboists from using their boundless imaginations to craft predictive representations of what might happen after. For Hieronymus Bosch it was a hellish damnation of amorous pig-nuns, stabby fish-bird people and playing the flute with your bum. In the artworks owned by Richard Harris recently exhibited at the Wellcome Collection, it’s skellington after skellington in a variety of different poses. For David Byrne it was “a place where nothing, nothing ever happens”. For OPM it was a halfpipe.
The Haxan Cloak’s 2011 self-titled debut soundtracked a character’s journey towards death. Its sequel, Excavation, represents the journey after death. And this journey, it seems, is no jollier than the one preceding it.
Like Raime, Haxan Cloak’s Bobby Krlic uses his mossy digital cauldron to concoct electronica which is the antithesis to the essence of rave. This is not for dancing your limbs off in a field of fluorescently-dressed new friends. It’s more suitable for being tied to a wooden chair in an abandoned meat locker with a damp sack over your head by a gangster who’s just harvested your kidneys.
As one might expect from its cover art of an ominously swinging noose set against a black background, this is bleak and spooky stuff. It’s an electronics-led close cousin to doom, drone and perhaps even goth (‘haxan’, after all, is Swedish for ‘witch’). It is also very, very slow, as if Earth’s Dylan Carlson had been raised on claustrophobic trip-hop and industrial dub rather than Sabbath and Slayer.
Not much happens, and what does happens is fairly frightening. If you thought Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ went downhill after its opening ten seconds of moody heartbeat minimalism and that the beat was too fast in the first place, then ‘Excavation (Part 1)’ is the track for you. ‘Miste’ adds terrifying, murky, drowned voices to the eerie ambience. ‘Mirror Reflecting (Part 2)’ is like one of DJ Shadow’s darker moments, at half-speed, trapped inside a catacomb.
‘The Drop’ (or its first half at least) contains hints of optimism: the lighter keyboard tones that float among the dystopian throb evoke one of the happier scenes from John Carpenter’s filmography in which, for a short time at least, nobody is being pursued by a mutant alien or masked psychopath.
In his 1956 autobiography, the political cartoonist David Low described his ‘Infallible Remedy for Depression’:
Retire to quiet room, lock door, draw blinds, tightly bandage eyes and chin, lie down on back, fold hands on chest, clear mind, remain completely and stiffly still for 20 minutes imagining you are buried under six feet of wet earth. Then get up, go to a lively restaurant and have a good dinner. After that if the world hasn’t taken on a new interest and you aren’t glad to be alive, I’ll eat my hat.
A similar psychological effect can be achieved by listening to the whole of Excavation, immediately followed by They Might Be Giants’ ‘Doctor Worm’.
Even without this aural dessert, however, there is something strangely life affirming about The Haxan Cloak. As the Richard Harris exhibition showed, by enabling us to momentarily confront our own mortality, morbid artistic meditations on death can be oddly and overwhelmingly uplifting. - J.R. Moores

Most people who listen to The Haxan Cloak’s second record will never hear it completely. Written into the album’s data are frequencies that can only be played on powerful equipment: deep, floor-shaking tones meant to be felt, not heard. Even through headphones, the record manipulates sound in a way that’s primally disturbing, preying on the instinct to jump at sudden noises, to mistrust silence. Excavation betrays the illusion of the album as a pristine artifact, instead embracing music as an experience contingent on its environment. The album is not a grooved disc or a folder of .mp3s. The album is a conversation between vibrating air and the brain.

Listening to Excavation is a profoundly visceral experience. Disembodied voices yelp intermittently in pain, while low rumbles forebode throughout. This is Bobby Krlic’s most digital work to date, but you’d never know it at first listen. Cellos sound like computers, while synthesizers mimic wind instruments. A heartbeat morphs into an engine. Krlic blurs the line between the organic and synthetic, using both to disorient and captivate in turn.
Excavation even toys with our perception of time. Playing just 3:15, “Mara” feels like the longest track, while the two title tracks flit by more quickly than the numbers by their names suggest. While 2012′s The Men Parted The Sea To Devour The Water steadily evolved, Excavation mars its own patterns as soon as it sets them. There’s no telling time when all the clocks are broken.
The Haxan Cloak engages the mechanism of fear rather than the appearance of it. Excavation isn’t quite drone in the way that Eraserhead isn’t quite horror. The goal is to look at why we’re afraid—and to see the beauty that comes out of our fear. - Sasha Geffen

Excavation approaches fear and darkness a lot differently than its predecessor. Bobby Krlic’s 2011 selt-tiled debut as The Haxan Cloak was all about externalizing its subjects, using a vast array of acoustic instrumentation–most prominently, cracked, droning strings (Krlic had the resources of the Britten-Pears Foundation at his disposal)–with some electronics to illustrate and outline something tangible and alive and “bound to earth” as Krlic himself put it in a recent interview. The record played like half-soundtrack to, half-sound collage of a festering, claustrophobic haunted house choked with ash and shadow. Excavation goes in the opposite direction, seeking out internal darkness and the core of fear itself. It’s Inland Empire to The Haxan Cloak‘s The Haunting.Krlic has talked a little about how he approached Excavation as a deconstruction of the elements on his first album: “…really get the magnifying glass in and break them down and go really textural, like Impressionist painting.” Excavation does that. Krlic takes a much more electronic and classic dark ambient route than The Haxan Cloak (without completely abandoning those acoustic elements), relying heavily on subterranean synths, crushed field recordings, and muted techno rhythms, finding aural destinations more abstract and mental, if not metaphysical in nature. And its scope is all the more grand, its landscapes all the more intricate because of it. It puts The Haxan Cloak in the realm of left-field techno lifers like Demdike Stare, Raime, and Vatican Shadow, but where those guys all seem content just to build hellish, alien atmospheres and then float through them (compellingly, for sure), Krlic is nothing but propulsion. It’s the difference between someone who knows tone, and someone who knows how to tell a whole story with it.
Excavation is vivid and physical, each moment meticulously and purposefully crafted. Honestly, the record’s moment to moment geography is jaw dropping. Not just because it’s so alive with subtle, ever-shifting production and textural intricacies (which it is), but because it all works in service of a bigger emotional narrative that’s just as vivid and refined. The album’s grander structural beats work in congruence with its littlest details. Its breadth is enough to encompass clamped, bodily gasps for oxygen as well as visions of gargantuan crumbling mountains in the space of a track and it’s all linked together by the kind of inverted dream logic that turns apocalyptic geological events and deep-seated psychological turmoil into one and the same. Both in size and import. All the while, the record’s sense of emotion is woven in like a double-helix.
The panic-inducing opener, “Consumed” clocks in under two minutes, but it’s one of the most viscerally throttling ambient tracks ever crafted (seriously). The cut opens with some nightmarish voices lurking beneath the blackened liquid surface before a swarm of strings careen upward in pitch to fight-or-flight heights. A world-decimating kick drum slams into it all like an asteroid collision, some bare-ribbed synths rising from below like a colossal primordial evil (the song makes an immediate impression). Krlic is able to create an atmosphere that’s taut enough for every little event to stick out and propel the next. Even on a micro scale. Sure, there’s a ton of intricacy, but it doesn’t just decorate the walls. On “Excavation Part 1″ Krlic subtlety tweaks the volume of the kick drum making it clip every so often as if to bump the listener’s heart rate up. When he brings in the ticking hi-hat, it’s quiet enough to seem subtle on the surface, but, really, its surroundings are so tense it’s almost a crescendo.
Then there’s “The Drop.” Over the course of thirteen glorious minutes, Krlic vividly chronicle’s a descent into Lovecraft-ian madness. The track almost works as an epitaph. Tonally and narratively, it stands apart from the rest of the record (at first anyway) as a self-contained piece. It starts by letting a bit of light in with some hopeful, melodic synths, as if we’ve awoken from the nightmare detailed on the previous eight tracks, with just enough teeth to hint everything might not be as it seems. Then it starts to deconstruct itself, letting the melodies linger too long and warping them into new, more malevolent fixtures. Chains start to rattle, strings start to whine, drones start to seep in, while some oil-drum percussion booms off in the distance. The whole track moves in a doomy downward march before it all spirals out of control near the ten-minute mark as some oppressive, icy synths descend like a swirling thunder storm to swallow the track whole, the nightmare consuming everything once again. It’s magnificent and it’s everything The Haxan Cloak does best stretched into an epic.
It’s obvious every inch of Excavation has been given thought. Krlic never does anything as a producer because it’s what is expected. He doesn’t use rhythm because he needs to feed his techno influences or anything. Rhythm is just another tool at Krlic’s disposal he uses with a greater purpose in mind; he uses it to punctuate and reinforce. In fact, based on how different both The Haxan Cloak’s albums are in approach, Excavation is only the album it is genre and sound-wise because that’s what works best for Krlic’s endgoal. It gives Excavation a dexterity in range that’s simply breathtaking–physical, visceral, and gut-wrenching when it wants to be; soft, distant, and foreboding when it wants to be–as well as a sense of freedom and unpredictability that is wholly absent from a lot of modern electronic music. Yet it’s come to define the imprint Excavation is being released on: Tri Angle. Both Balam Acab and Holy Other–and to some degree, Vessel–work with a greater emotional and thematic thread which dictates their sound and with Excavation, The Haxan Cloak readily joins them. -

Even if you've never heard a lick of the Haxan Cloak's music, you can guess that he makes some pretty sinister stuff. It's right there in the name, after all: The first part comes from Häxan, a 1922 silent film about witchcraft and demonic possession; the second part, evoking the outerwear favored by vampires and villains everywhere, functions as a metaphor for the occult itself. Yorkshire, England's Bobby Krlic has used the moniker since 2009, when he released his self-titled debut album on the metal-leaning Aurora Borealis label. Despite titles like "Raven's Lament" and "Burning Torches of Despair," a wide gulf separated his unremittingly bleak electro-acoustic instrumentals from anything that might scan as metal; here was a dude operating way out on his own, crossing the blustery heaths not with Leviathan or Xasthur on his iPod, but Ligeti and Xenakis.
While we're talking about his name, it bears noting that Krlic's alias is probably the least original thing about him, hewing, as it does, so closely to the pattern so popular in sepulchral electronic music right now: Demdike Stare, Vatican Shadow, Sandwell District, Silent Servant, Ghost Box, Mordant Music, Ancient Methods, Pendle Coven — artists who have all mined, in one way or another, occult mythology and dystopian menace. It's fair to say, without denigrating any of those acts, that dark-side music is on trend right now, and has been for quite some time; Simon Reynolds' treatise on "Hauntology" appeared in The Wire way back in 2006 — two full years before goth-crunk minstrels Salem kicked off the mercifully short-lived "witch house" movement, we might add. But Excavation, despite its home on the atmosphere-obsessed Tri Angle label, goes way beyond shtick. There's not one ounce of schlock on this vast, forbidding record, not one iota of corniness. Rather than playacting darkness, the Haxan Cloak embodies it. Skipping past Hollywood horror, he plunges into an emotion akin to Kant's idea of the sublime, where pleasure mixes with fear when confronted with forces limitless and unfathomable.
Krlic recorded his debut album at home over the course of three years; unlike many of his peers, who sample with abandon, he played virtually all of its acoustic instruments himself, save a few bits of chorus. Excavation sounds more "electronic," but it rests on an entirely acoustic sound palette of instruments from the classical-music studios of the Britten-Pears Foundation, as well as field recordings of his own making, all of it stretched and mangled into pliant, elastic sheets of tone and texture. "They've got loads of orchestral drums and tympani and gongs," Krlic told SPIN of Britten-Pears, "so I was just like a kid in a sweet shop for a few days. With the last record, it was very much primal instruments, all acoustic, quite bound to the earth. With this one, I wanted to deconstruct those elements and make it more ethereal. Get field recordings and just crush them — really get the magnifying glass in and break them down and go really textural, like Impressionist painting."
Excavation picks up where Haxan Cloak's self-titled debut album from 2009 left off. Literally, in fact — it begins with the same scraped string note that closes the final track on his first album, so that if you play both records back to back, the transition between the two is absolutely seamless. There's a narrative intention there: Krlic says that as he finished his debut album, he began to devise a story around a character who "was dying, basically. The end of the record is like a requiem for this person. The new record takes off at the exact point where the last one finished, so if you put them both together you wouldn't even hear a gap. The new record is just the next step in this character's journey, basically. It's not as simple as just saying it's either heaven or hell, or limbo; it's a different plane for this person to exist on."
You don't need to know any of that to enjoy Excavation. Indeed, one of its great pleasures — although "enjoyment" and "pleasure" are strange words to use for a record like this — is its creation of a world that feels total, self-contained, and viscerally overwhelming. "Consumed" opens the album with a rumbling drone beneath a hazy, wordless choral passage. Out of the murk, a viscous string glissando rises and then explodes into cascading bass tones pitched somewhere on the scale between "La Brea" and "black hole." Dubstep artists should probably just give up now, because really, how much lower could bass possibly go? (If this were Spinal Tap, the answer would be, "None more low.") In just under two minutes, Krlic manages to compress Sunn O))) and Gatekeeper's Exo into a force like a cosmic piledriver capable of cracking the planet itself in half.
It's not all so full-on, though. For long stretches, you strain to hear anything at all. To get the most out of those quiet passages, where waveforms crackle like static electricity in an anechoic chamber, the album needs to be heard loud, very loud — which, of course, only makes the periodic eruptions of bass and percussion that much louder. Excavation proceeds less like a musical work than a series of dream fragments: Pensive tri-tone drones, rustling sub-rhythms, animalistic yowls, short-circuit sizzle, rattling sheets of metal, heavy-lidded pedal tones, cricket chatter, hiccupping EVP phonemes, church bells, and moments of aching silence, all spun together according to a logic that feels intuitive, pre-linguistic, sub-subconscious.
Along the way, there are echoes of Krlic's predecessors and peers: "Excavation (Part 1)" carries a hint of Demdike Stare's slow-motion techno; "Dieu" sounds like Autechre scored for a punch-card machine. The watery pings of Daphne Oram and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop scuttle throughout the album like blood cells under a microscope, and periodic amphibian grumbles bring to mind Merzbow's Frog. The album's final track, "The Drop," is part Seefeel and part John Carpenter. But whereas Krlic's hauntological peers tend to be obsessed with musical history and techno-nostalgia, misremembering the garbled VHS tapes of their youth in powerfully associative bleeps and groans, Excavation is less concerned with reference than pure, immediate presence. That sensation is heightened by the startling lack of reverb: Instead of settling into the comfortable familiarity of spooky atmospherics, his scrapes and clangs take place against a backdrop of dry, dead nothingness.
Ultimately, what makes Excavation such an awesome and absorbing listen is precisely its indifference to the listener. There are no half-measures, no fallbacks, no guideposts. To properly experience the album, you not only need to turn up the volume to a level that will enrage your neighbors; you need to shut the windows to keep the street noise from drowning out the nothingness. Whatever plane of existence Krlic's character has stumbled upon in this second part of his ongoing narrative, it operates by its own rules. As long as Excavation is playing, this is the Haxan Cloak's world, and we just cower in it. - Philip Sherburne

Listen to this album alone, in the dark. Challenge yourself. Go on. You must, to appreciate it all in full. This is a challenging record, a record that is beautiful and uncomfortable all at the same time. It's got a unique energy that moves it way beyond any previous releases from The Haxan Cloak – this record will swallow you whole like one of those dementor things from the Potter movies, where the previous self-titled effort and 'The Men Parted The Sea To Devour The Water' only took tiny nibbles and bites. This effort, to us, is much more electronic, eerie and, in places violent to take in.
What The Haxan Cloak and its mastermind Bobby Krlic want to do with this music is create pure audio fear. This sound is striking – it's striking like The Exorcist or Halloween soundtracks, you might not want The Haxan Cloak's themes in your head, but they will stay absolutely (if you could just now for a second imagine this writer's voice echoing Heather O'Rourke's cult 'Poltergeist' movie quote and saying, “They're here...” referencing The Haxan Cloak's sound, that'd be ace, thank you).
Our Bobby's deep fascination with witch culture ('Haxan' itself is an old German word for witch, don'tcha know?) plays into his music constantly – there are spooky chants and hair-tingling moments a-plenty – none-more-so than on opener 'Consumed' , and from this one onward, we can be sure that Krlic is never in danger of straying into relaxed and playful Burton-esque territory. This is the sound of nightmares. Enjoy it.
There's a raw-feel to these nine tracks – each one feels uncomfortable and intense, but there's also something undeniably intriguing about the beats that build in 'Excavation (Part 1)' and into '...(Part 2)'. Through both, considering it's the middle of the night at the time of writing, this writer finds himself looking over his shoulder, no joke – told you, intense.
Let's do this horror-style, shall we? 'Mara' yanks and pulls at your insides in slow motion, and as every beat hits, more organs come out, more blood is spilled, before 'Miste' restores everything, allows for that struggled breathe (or two), just long enough for you to fall asleep, wondering if you're ever going to wake up again. To delve deeper, the heavy use of synth elements and witch-house-ish structures build the backbone of this record and make the listener feel on edge throughout its course. There's no denouement. This is pure drone driven by a desire to succeed where acts like SALEM and even Reznor and co. (most recognisably perhaps with his 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' score) have failed to take the listener to hell and back. The difference, as stated, is that the aforementioned artists let the listener rest; there's always a slight break in pace, whereas this is constantly flippin' on it. What that does, is plonk the listener right in Krlic's own personal horror movie – the fun bit is, working out if you as the listener are the calculated and twisted killer, or the scared victim?
Now, fans might argue a point that there's plenty of silence on this album, and plenty of chances for the listener to relax ('The Mirror Reflecting (Part 1)') – no, mates. If and when silence is used here, it's used to create tension, or the sense that something dreadful is just... around... the corner. That of course is 'The Mirror Reflecting (Part 2)', which is for us, the standout of the record; blissfully dark and dismal – it is at this point in the album that the fear and beauty that have so far clashed against each other at varying during this process come together with the quite frankly enchanting synth lines that greet the latter part of the tune. Still, if you need something more specific '...Reflecting (Part Two)' it's a tad like a messed up 'Doctor Who' soundtrack (in places). 'Dieu', meanwhile is a heavy industrial romp that would've fitted nicely into any of the commercial soundtracks that we've mentioned here, a surprising effort, but a welcome one. Last track, 'The Drop' slows things down quite a bit – it's clearly that part in our grandiose horror flick where someone's got away, they've escaped! That calm is signified by some lovely string elements. Now, that person is back home in bed, looking up at the, and yet, as the electro beats become more prominent, we all know what's coming – the scarred and wounded killer's in the house under t'bed, and in slow motion, he stabs her to death as everything finally fades out and we go to black. Nice.
Shock-rockers, horrorcore bands and aggrotech acts, you think the music you make is shit scary? Try this while sticking on your fake blood and PVC. The Haxan Cloak, with 'Excavation' has created the ultimate in tension-filled electronic music that comes off somewhere between Godflesh, Sigur Ros and Charlie Clouser. It's, er... hella good.
Taking cues from previous work with heavy percussive clanging sounds, some vibrant Eno-styled textures and drawn-out chants that work to make the psyche squirm, alongside cutting almost buzzsaw-like electronic lashings. This album, for a short time, will make you question your sanity and the world around you. -
Dom Smith

Haxan Cloak (2011 ) streaming

Digital Exclusive* One of the year;s finest album's - on digital formats for the first time ever. Beguiling, unsettling and deeply mysterious, The Haxan Cloak's eponymous debut album is a riveting experience. In case Demdike Stare hadn't inspired you to read up on the pre-1900 occult, the term "Häxan" is an old German word for witchcraft, a theme shared by the two artists besides their northern English latitude (which would technically intersect with northern Germany, geography geeks!). But that, and the monotone artwork aside, The Haxan Cloak takes a very different approach to his craft, one rooted in his studies in sound art and more concerned with "the very real potential and power of the actual physical properties of sound" he can elicit from treated strings and primal percussion, and the space between them. His unrevealed, alchemical processes summon an immersive spectrum of ethereal drones and often shocking sounds, from the nerve-jangling, near-infrasonic subbass fluctuations of 'Fall', to the stereo-dynamic fata morgana of 'The Growing'. Occuring at the apex of the album, this astonishing track is a work of pure black magic sorcery, transporting us through a digital wormhole into shuddering, hallucinatory electro-acoustics and heart-quaking subs to a climax of percussion recalling both Zoviet*France and Scorn. Equally, when focussed on strings the effect is vividly arresting, like with the petrified drones of 'In Memoriam' or the sustained dissonance of 'Parting Chant', both achieving something more than just an evocative cinematic appeal. There's a more hallucinatory and abstract narrative to these compositions, which may be dissipated with leaden concrete imagery. The finely rendered mixing and dynamics create an illusory space all of their own, much akin to Raime's breathtaking gothic architectures, but probably more connected with the likes of KTL and Sunn 0))) overlord, Stephen O'Malley. A massive recommendation. - Nick Neyland

The Haxan Cloak - The Men Parted The Sea To Devour The Water image 

The Men Parted The Sea To Devour The Water (2012)

The Men Parted The Sea To Devour The Water' is The Haxan Cloak's long awaited Latitudes edition. It's his first release since that jaw-dropping eponymous album (an end of year favourite across the board) and means that we're possibly one step closer to two things: a vinyl edition of said LP, and his hugely anticipated album debut for Tri Angle. But let's not get ahead of we find Bobby Krlic re-interpreting his own work in looser, improvised form, compared with his usual meticulous, mystic working methods (he's apparently been recording in prisons for his new side), and the results are expectedly engrossing, if not entirely unexpected. We're taking a punt that the A-side is a transformation of 'Fall', reusing its submerged chorale as the starting point for an epic 15 minute piece which blooms steady, almost Technoid percussion before morphing torque with latinized electroid swerve to deposit us in a post-Shackleton hinterland of neo-classical strings and subbass. We told you it was unexpected! B-side 'Hounfour (Temple)' from his 'Observatory' 12" is subtly reworked, exposing glinting new melodies and reinforcing the cascading conclusion with atom-quaking bass subduction. Oh aye, we're all over this.... grab one while you can. - boomkat


Observatory EP (2011) streaming

One of the year's finest - on digital formats for the first time ever. Trailing in the wake of a stunning eponymous debut album, comes a vital vinyl pressing of the 'Observatory EP'. The first pressing was on tape and limited to 31 copies, so don't fret if you missed out! This material is quite removed from the album, and almost feels like it was made for a medieval goth rave in the woods. The title track track is built from pummelling, pistoning Industrial kicks and a twirling, wyrdly eldritch synth which hypnotises like a more primal, arcane version of the lead from Carl Craig's 'The Climax'. Flipside, 'Hounfour' is slower, lurching forward like the marked offspring of Sleeparchive's Stamp Release 12" and Raime. Gob-smacking material, do not sleep on this!!!!! - boomkat


Seeing as though you are relatively new, could you give me an insight into how you first became involved in creating this kind of music?  What was it about the more experimental end of the musical spectrum that inspired you to form The Haxan Cloak?

I studied sound-art at University, and  have been interested in a more unconventional approach to music for a long time now.
For my degree piece I investigated the resonances of different instruments and the effect that sound can have upon different materials.
 Research for this project was actually one of the first times that I really immersed myself in a lot of modern ‘drone’ music - when I started to realise the very real potential and power of  the actual physical properties of sound.

What would you say is the whole ethos/concept behind The Haxan Cloak?  Is there something specific that you personally want to achieve or want to say through your music?

I’ve been making music for more than 10 years now, and all I can really do is strive to achieve the most honest thing possible. This is what The Haxan Cloak represents to me - a desire for honesty - a clean channel between the conception and fruition of ideas.
There isn’t really a concept as, personally, I’m uncomfortable with trying to consciously mask the music with a pre-determined idea of what it should be or say. I find this very counter-productive.
The music does end up being quite melancholy in tone.
Of course, there is the question of why record under ‘The Haxan Cloak’ and not just my own name. I am sort of obsessed with pre-1900s imagery and text . I was heavily into reading about the Salem witch trials for a time. Haxan is an old German word for witch, which I always found sounded and looked intriguing and somehow beautiful.

Do you want/expect your listeners to experience anything specific when listening to your music?  It has a very dark visual/cinematic element to it that implies that you want to create a sort of aura, an atmosphere with your compositions.

To be honest, I never consider the role of the listener. It’s just not something that ever occupies my thoughts.
There are definitely certain images, themes or experiences that present themselves to me at the time of writing, or at the time of listening and reflecting, but these can be highly personal, and highly unpredictable. A painting a friend may have made that week, a scene from a film I may have seen five years ago or a conversation I had with my Father. All of these and more can be randomly and unknowingly accessed at any period in time and can choose to manifest themselves in a particular part of the music unbeknown to me.
So, when you ask if I want or expect a particular experience, I don’t think I can expect anything. I would want someone to perhaps surprise themselves with the head-space they are taken to while listening. Perhaps even that is too much. I suppose I would hope they at least feel something - If it provokes any reaction at all then I am content.

Unlike a lot of experimental/drone acts your sound, to me at least, seems to combine a recognisable sense of structure and a sort of formlessness, which although two very different concepts seem to work together with magnificent results.  Is this something you would say you are conscious of when writing material?

Thank you.
I am very interested in the concept of extremities, and the notion of playing one against the other. I think the suggestion of struggle and opposition is a powerful thing.

I hear that you have an upcoming full-length brewing that will be released by Aurora Borealis (Andrew has already told me how amazing it sounds!).  Can you tell me any details regarding the album and what we can expect from it?  Will it be similar in sound to your self-titled CDr?  Do you have a set release date yet?

The album will be very different to the CDr. The violin and cello are more of a driving force to the compositions. It is significantly more subtle and with a much higher attention to fidelity.
I’ve never been more proud of anything I have done.
It features a collaborator and friend of mine, Mikhail Karikis. He has contributed some astonishing vocal parts.
There are also a couple of other special guests, but I’ll keep that under wraps for now.
It will be released in February 2011 and it will be 2xLP, CD and mp3.

How do you go about deciding what type of sounds/textures/drones to use in your music?  Do you always know exactly what you want to get out of a piece and where you want it to go?

Well, in my house I have lots of guitars, violins, a cello, a glockenspiel and some old drums.
This is always my palette. I am conscious of honoring the natural beauty of the instruments and try to limit the sounds and textures within pieces to the natural acoustic limitations of the instrument I am using. There are exceptions to this rule, however, I don’t view them as particularly radical ones.
There have been select pieces where I have definitely decided upon a theme in my mind before sitting to compose - wether this is a compositional theme, or an idea of harmony I would like to explore or an image or particular tone I am concentrating on channeling through the piece.
I still surprise myself with where the recording session can lead itself. These are the most rewarding, but often the most rare.

Does technology play a big part when composing material, or is everything done live?  I ask this because you have such an organic sound that is different to many or most other experimental / drone acts.

Everything is played live, and played and recorded by myself. Due to this nature, technology does  play an important role in terms of multi-tracking and building the pieces, but I like to believe it has an almost negligible influence upon the composition and the intent.
I think also because I tend not to view or refer to the recordings as experimental.
This terminology never sits right to me. It implies a lack of commitment, or perhaps a lack of direction or faith that the composer would have in their own ability. Labeling something as experimental has become somewhat of a scapegoat. A way to imply that it is not quite in it’s finished state. It is easy to fend off criticism by taking this standpoint.
The period before the piece is deemed to be complete would be more appropriate as being labelled ‘experimental’ by my definition. However, I am very conscious of what I am playing and recording when it comes to the actual finished pieces - the experimentation is what precedes this period.
Having played live a few times now, how do you find your music comes across in a live setting?  Do people generally ‘get’ what it is you are trying to purvey?  Do you feel it loses any of its atmospheres in a live setting?

I am very fond of performing, and will be doing it much more frequently in the new year.
I do however, view the performative aspect and the studio/recording/releasing aspect as very different beasts.
The incarnation of this project in a live sense represents a different palette of emotions.
The album is about subtlety and patience and allowing a gestation period whereby you permit it the proper time to become familiarised.
These luxuries tend not to present themselves in a live setting. I tend to go for a much more aggressive, noise-driven, dissonant approach, almost forcing the experience upon the audience, rather than hoping they will embrace and appreciate it’s subtleties.
It is frustrating having to rely on the shallow hope that (at this level of performance) you will be allocated a sound engineer and sound system that will pay respect to these subtleties also, so for now it makes sense to me to engineer the live performance in such a way that it can be presented in any context.
Having said that, I also view live performance as a unique opportunity to for an audience to gain an insight into the personality of your music and you as a musician. By this definition I sometimes feel like sitting and playing old classical and folk compositions, and I probably will for some shows, as this also represents a significant amount of my musical personality. I grew up listening to and training to play in that style of guitar, and I still do. So, I would say I am of the position that the music you play does not have to be a recreation of a released recording, as long as it is true to your musical nature and history.
Also, the structure and texture is very limiting being a sole performer. I do have plans to involve other live players, so perhaps this is all subject to change….

is expanding your works thematically just as important as expanding your compositional/production abilities technically?

I believe this is all encompassed within the realm of compositional ability.
Thematically, the works will always grow and mutate in correspondence to the unpredictability of experiences that will permit growth and mutation within myself.
The determining factor in my personal success when writing, is efficiently and relevantly transcribing this experience compositionally.

How much importance do you put into the visual side of The Haxan Cloak?  Do you think it is important that your listeners get the full package, so-to-speak?

It’s paramount with the music in my eyes. I am a very visual person in the way that I receive and process information and ideas.
I am very fortunate to be surrounded by friends who are quite honestly the most creatively and artistically gifted humans I have personally encountered.
A selection of these have agreed to help me realise the visual concept of my release.
I’m not sure if “the full package” is the terminology I would choose, I’m not terribly into ‘free’ things with records if it’s too gimmicky. Although, I am definitely fond of personal touches and hand-made elements.

Finally, what purpose does The Haxan Cloak serve to you as the composer?

I don’t know if I am able to answer this question succinctly enough. It is similar to me trying to explain to you the purpose that sleeping serves to me as a human being.
The Haxan Cloak, or the idea of composing in general is as organic and natural to me as a bodily function. It is  something I cannot live without and something which forms the foundation of my daily existence.
I think catharsis would be too strong of a term to use, as I don’t think I’m exorcising anything….yet.
It’s more of a personal duty and obligation. it can be the dearest friend I have ever had, and also possesses the power to physically and emotionally displace me more than I could have imagined.

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