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.
Essential Tracks: “Mara”, “The Drop”