Label: Tri Angle | Release Date: April 15, 2013
The cover art to Excavation, the latest album from The Haxan Cloak, features a black and sepia photograph of a rope centered over a smokey backdrop. To me, the way the image is designed, the rope looks to be wiggling forward like sperm. The rope also looks like a hangman’s noose. I see a dual message of life and death, but delivered with such subtlety that it avoids the clichés associated with each.
The cover art has a simple feel, but holds layers of meaning. The audio mirrors this. On the surface, the sounds of Excavation seem deceptively uninvolved, but under the stretched noises and repeated loops are beds of complexity. Drones unfold and are overtaken by building strings. Strings are washed over by oceans of deep bass. Bass backdrops sputter into silence. Silence is disrupted by sonic tones.
And the samples… they’re seldom used, but when they are, they’re used to good, scary, effect. Play this album when you go to bed and nightmares will hover over you while you sleep.
The Haxan Cloak, Bobby Krilic, found it’s first real exposure in 2011 with its self-titled debut. Released on Aurora Borealis, that was a recording built on crawling strings, creepy noises, and occasional pounds of slow, tribal rhythm. With this new release, Krilic moved his project to the the more synthetic sounding Tri Angle Records. The instrumentation on The Haxan Cloak’s debut sounded tactile and organic, making it sound earthy, while the aesthetics on Excavation are smoother and more electronic, making it sound supernatural.
This, I imagine, is exactly what Krilic is going for. According to his artist page on Tri Angle’s website, the first Haxan Cloak album was conceptually inspired by a person who was moving toward death. Excavation, a sequel, deals with that same person’s experience after death. It’s a story of the unknown, a story which Excavation, with its sudden shifts in sound, expresses with perfection. It works as an audio-experience because while the album makes unexpected moves in terms of composition, it holds the same aesthetic throughout. The production is deep. The sounds are engulfing.
This album, to me, is like walking through a foreign environment the dark; my hands are in front of me, moving about, and although my eyes are wide open, I can’t see a thing. I’m hyper-aware of my heart-beat. I feel lost. And it feels terrifying.