The music of The Haxan Cloak could be the internal soundtrack in Walter White’s head as he runs around Albuquerque covering his tracks. It’s dark, foreboding and urgent; the monotonous heartbeat of waking demons.
Excavation, released this year on Tri Angle Records, is a jet-black pack of drone and ambient suspense. It doesn’t really exist as a set of songs, but more as a lurching morass of chemical sound. There are metallic thrusts of bass and industrial-grade beats. The sound constantly moves in and out of place, mimicking the slow and steady breathing of external beasts.
The man behind the blackened soundscapes is Bobby Krlic, of the UK, and one has to wonder what working on music of this nature does to the solid mind. His last full-length album was 2011’s The Haxan Cloak. Excavation continues his slip into the sludge. It rises very slowly over the opening tracks, until suddenly the sound is everywhere.
The swelling strings on “Mara” create killer-around-the-corner horror movie suspense. Play this, unknowingly, in the middle of the night and anyone sleeping will surely wake suddenly, fearing an approaching death. It’s dramatic and horrendously climactic.
“Miste,” halfway through, opens the record a bit, allowing some pale color to leak in. A slithering bass line creaks along as the speakers fill up with the noise of dark matter. A slight rip comes through the black tarp on “The Mirror Reflecting (Part 2).” As the track cranks up a little bit of sonic light pierces the veil with pitched swirling tones.
The structures, at times, are reminiscent of the IDM brain-fuck lacings of Autechre, but with less bells and whistles, and an even bigger expansion of space. Silence plays as pivotal a role here as the noise. Krlic labors over creating something that mentally draws the listener into its grasp, then leaves them on the side of the road, bracing for the next creeping composition.
“Dieu” pulsates darkly. It sounds like a bundle of leftover loops coming together and rebelling like the buckets and brooms in Mickey Mouse’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The final track, “The Drop,” defies most descriptors. I’d like to think there is an appropriate term to describe the song, but as it played over its twelve-plus minutes, I fell deeply into a state of psychosis and it’s debateable, yet, if I’ve pulled myself from it.