Category Archives: The Haxan Cloak

Best of 2011, part IV: Is it 2012 yet?

The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order — not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopaedias and dictionaries. There is an allure to enumerating how many women Don Giovanni slept with: It was 2,063, at least according to Mozart’s librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte. We also have completely practical lists — the shopping list, the will, the menu — that are also cultural achievements in their own right. – Umberto Eco

The 20jfg bestof lists attempt no such feat of greatness. We are as confused by the infinity of stuff out there as any being. It’s fun to look back at our best of lists in retrospect, and i guess in this way they are cultural documents for ourselves, which we hope you also enjoy.

 

This is our final bestof lists for 2011 – we probably missed some of the things we loved, and you loved so let us know any in the comments box.

 

Mind Over Mirrors: I’m Willing to Stagger Bursting forth with a droning, lackadaisical klaxon rippling through the heavens, I’m Willing to Stagger twists and distorts its tape delayed harmonium into something completely off-worldly. Mind Over Mirrors has managed to recreate that lost La Monte Young soundtrack to the birth of the universe. A huge pounding piece of processional music that locks you into it’s footstep grove as hard as any percussive track can ever dream. If the temple at the end of the universe were designed by Gaudi, its aisles measured in kilometres and its entire focus, an exposed space above the alter where the final rip in space will occur – this would play, as millions of dignitaries assembled among the alcoves and observed the refolding of the universe’s expansive fabric.

Mind Over Mirrors – I’m willing to stagger – Part 1

Buy: as far as we can tell it’s sold out

 

Pechenga: Helt Borte Pechenga is Rune Lindbæk and Cato Farstad. The story goes that after recording this album in 2007 at Lindbæk’s grandmother’s house they self released the record in Norway where it sold 57 copies. Evidently one to found its way to Smalltown Supersound‘s Joakim Haugland because that label’s just re-released it. Thankfully. It’s an incredibly beautiful ambient work, full of a sense of infinite blank vistas and silent winter light. Where Thomas Köner traverses beneath the ice, here we often soar above, watching our perfect black shadow dance along the white sheets below.

Pechenga – My Frozen Spirit

Buy: Helt Borte

The Advisory Circle: As The Crow Flies The cracks in our memory have always been open to the sounds produced by Ghost Box and 2011 was no exception with As The Crow Flies providing those fleeting glances out the corner or your eye of something not being quite right. Pastoral electronica pushed by undercurrents of the other side.

The Advisory Circle – As The Crow Flies

Buy : As The Crow Flies

 

 

Peepholes: Tunnels Having lapped up their last EP on Upset the Rhythm and it’s epic closer Carnivore we feel suitably prepped for the increasingly wide pendulum swings by the band, out and away from short bursts of kinetic drum/keyboard frenzy. New mini-LP Caligula opens with another long builder, a Mayan temple of an incline up to a plateau of the breathtaking and bloody.

It’s 3rd track Tunnels that stands out. Synths are no longer ripped apart oscillation by oscillation as they struggle against voice and drums. Instead they’re allowed to form the stem of Tunnels with an honest to god drum machine as accompaniment. They drift over plains and open up blue/black vistas for Katia’s mesmeric sing/chanting to roam. There are minor traces of early Techno floating around but these could well be the shadows of Techno’s own progenitors: the electronic minimalism of your pick of Cold-Wave bands.

Peepholes – Tunnels

Buy: Caligula

Bubble Club: the Goddess A balearic hymn to an unnamed Goddess that masters the art of gentle euphoria so completely, combines cosmic-disco tropes with such loving care, that it becomes, by the end of its seven minutes, one of the most moving things we’ve heard in a long time. Synth stabs, co-opted African rhythms, cooing male vocals under waves of arpegiated bliss: Bubble Club’s The Goddess is one of the very reasons we write this blog and we can’t praise it higher than that.

Bubble Club – The Goddess

Buy: The Goddess

 

The Stepkids: The Stepkids So your kid brothers stole your Hall & Oates tape that had Sly & The Family Stone on the other side, and got confused as to which was the cool in ‘Mojo’ terms side, cos lets face it you didn’t really know either. Dam-Funk produced the entire resulting jam and stuck it out on Stone’s Throw records. Yeh – this is kinda what happend.

The Stepkids – Santos and Ken

Buy : The Stepkids

 

Mushy: Faded Heart Faded Heart is the field recording of a night of slo-mo psychic bloodshed at a crumbling coliseum, a debut of uncanny mystique and ghostly enigma accomplished beyond the glummest dreams of most drag apprentices. It drenches pages torn off Zola Jesus’ grimoire in the thick waters of the swamp where Christine Baxter drowned, deep in the woods of a death country shrouded in thick ambient mist, roamed by shapeless beasts of Lynchian provenance.

Mushy – Losing Days

Buy: Faded Heart

 

Cult of Youth: S/T If Songs:Ohia read All the Pretty Horses, then Cult of Youth are into Blood Meridian. They make Appalachian black magic, a satanic barn dance where the damned spin in dervish-like abandon over pagan symbols carved with Bowie knives. ou can almost see the bald and sweating dome of the Judge towering above the filthy scalp-hunters, an archetypical Dionysian troubadour which recurs through the ages – Flipper, Neubauten, Throbbing Gristle, Country Teasers, GG Allin, now this – to enthral us with tales of beautiful massacre. They are doing it so that we don’t have to, and we owe them for that.

Cult of Youth – The Lamb

Buy: S/T

 

Drums Off Chaos and Jens Uwe Beyer: Magazine 3 In Magazine 3, Drums off Chaos (Jaki Liebezeit’s percussion ensemble) and Jens-Uwe Beyer channel the millennial wisdom of a shaman who stares into the sky and sees the future instead of the past, because the gods are up there, and through the rituals codified in this music, the tribe eventually becomes them. It evokes an alternative branching in the life-story of Gang Gang Dance, where, after God’s Money, they decided to kneel at the altar of DRUM with the Boredoms, instead of trotting down the shining path to become the best dance music band in the world.

Drums off Chaos and Jens-Uwe Beyer – Second Half

Buy: Magazine 3

 

Way Through: Arrow Shower Way Through capture the joy of the elusive English sun breaking through a sky which gives and takes away, to shine upon the communal procession by which the years are counted. It is rather fitting that it is Chris and Clare who are behind it, seeing as their wonderful London happenings bristle with the unfakable communitarian spirit of the true, archetypical festival.

Way Through – Salmon Patch

Buy: Arrow Shower

Prince Rama: Trust Now Trust Now is a prodigy of exo-transformation. Upon slipping into it, we witness the world around us shape-shift. Boarded up shops become desecrated temples, malls are replaced by golden Ziggurats. Where not a minute ago stood gaudy theatres peddling crass pantomime, we now see impossible coliseums premiering Alejandro Jodorowsky’s latest psyche-drama. Fractured glimpses of the alternative present that would have been if the high and beautiful wave had never broken.

Prince Rama – Portaling

Buy: Trust Now

 

Yacht : Shangri-La You don’t get many concept albums in these days of the mp3 download but Yatcht’s second album as a duo – Shangri-la – is a concept album in the very old school sense. Unlike Rick Wakeman’s The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table On Ice Yatcht’s Shangrila is less of an exercise in self indulgent wank, and more of an exploration of their record collection. No matter what you feel about The Gaia hypothesis it’s difficult not to feel a little more like we need some earthly care and fun while listening to Shangri-La.

Yacht – Dystopia (The Earth Is On Fire)

Buy : Shangri-La

 

Ga’an: Black Equus and S/T album Ga’an are a steel Hydra coiling and snapping from the undifferentiated sludge of contemporary music, an enigmatic troubadour staying for a night at the inn of this reality, regaling us with uncanny ballads about the chaos without so that we can writhe in gorgeous nightmares when we go to bed. They take off like Magma, into the heart of darkness like Goblin.

Ga’an – Arms Can Speak

Ga’an – Servant Eye

Buy: Black Equus; S/T

 

Gold Zebra: Love, French, Better Minimal synth throb passified the gap left by the italians for most of this year by feeding us somthing a little colder.

GOLD ZEBRA- Love, French, Better

Buy : Love, French, Better

 

The Haxan Cloak: S/T The Haxan Cloak suck us in into a vortex which is Edgar Allan Poe Northern Sea dirge and modern composition drone, also the dark cave where pre-human tribes developed their first myths, which in a barely evolved form haunt us to this day. Like the Cave of Forgotten Dreams, if directed by Lucio Fulci.

The Haxan Cloak – The Fall

Buy: S/T album

 

Pink Skull : Psychic Welfare Struggling to try and create minimalism, while having too many things you loved love to put into an album, made Pink Skull’s Psychic Welfare a grower in 2011.

Pink Skull – Mu

Buy:  Psychic Welfare


Made Do and Mend Finders Keepers consistently release fantastic records, no mater what year it is. This year, like many uk independents, they suffered badly after a fire in the distribution warehouse of PIAS. The make do and mend compilations were issued to alleviate this situation, and turned out to be one of our favorite compilations of 2011.

Jacky Chalard – Super Man, Super Cool

Buy : Make do and mend

 

Bad Passion: Liquid Fire This is music bought into at both ends. The wry smile of an angelic voice crooning “it’s really got me buggin’” is married to an elaborate sexual metaphor involving badminton — but at the same time the music does that transporting thing, like Low or Galaxy 500 (when you concentrated on the voice and let the guitars fade away). A transporting thing that makes you fall in love with the heartbreaking sound while simultaneously being entertained by the knowing sexual intent of the words.

Bad Passion – Liquid Fire

Buy: Doin’ it Slow

 

And finally…

A huge shout out to our prodigal son at Tri Angle. Righty cleaning up on the ‘best of…’ lists wherever they appear. Afraid of the spectre of nepotism we probably don’t cover the output of the label as much as we should but releases from Balam Acab and Water Borders would make anyone’s list. Interesting times in 2012 as Robin follows in the footsteps of Kode9, Gas and Dub Narcotic Sound System and starts putting out his own music. If its anything like the lineage above, we’re psyched.

Buy: All the things

 

So is it 2012 yet? Well, for 20jazzfunkgreats the answer is almost. Thanks for being with us in 2011, sub-normal service will resume some time in 2012.

 

The Lurker in the Booth Pt. 2

Featuring : AIDS Wolf + The Haxan Cloak

(TagliaMani illustration via 50Watts)

(Unedited copy of an expose of Dean Castoriadis, owner of The Cube Club, the Gazzette, 19th of XXXXXX, 20XX).

There is much to digest in the Coroner report for the ‘Disco Bloodbath’ case. The analysis of DNA suggests at least 35 victims. The causes of death include lacerations, stabbing, bludgeoning, ripping and shredding. Partial burns in some cases, from extreme heat and acid. Internal explosion of organs provoked by an unexplained agent. A true carnival of gore.

And no trace of Dean Castoriadis, the infamous owner of the Cube.

What do we know about Castoriadis? Not much. He appeared from nowhere three years ago. Tall, slender and darkly handsome, dressed in black, a signature silver amulet always hanging from his pale neck, he set up the Cube with backing from some unnamed investors. Over his tenure there he became a nightlife legend. He was also the target of several police investigation concerning drug trafficking, depravity and disappearances at the club, but he always came clean.

According to his friends (at least those who survived the ‘Disco Bloodbath’), although he didn’t like to talk about his life, he made occasional references to having lived in the West Coast, Europe and the Middle East. The only evidence about his time in these places is this strange letter that we received from San Francisco last Monday:

I was watching the news when I saw the photo of Dean Haxtur on the screen. It was in relation to the murders at the Cube Club in your city. The reporter called him Castoriades, but when I met him in San Francisco in the 1970s, he was Haxtur. He hasn’t aged much since I last saw him. If anything he looks younger. He was a big player in the occult and new age scene that emerged after the hippie movement. Very charismatic, very intense, with a lot to say about the transformational potential of tapping into the id through spiritual exercises. A wolf amongst lambs.

A small circle coalesced around him. My girlfriend was part of it. They used to meet once a week in Haxtur’s white manor in Nob Hill. She talked about crossing gates through meditation, about accessing a powerful reservoir of energy hidden inside her genetic memory below the apparent rock bottom of her subconscious. She did cross some gates, she did tap some pools, she was changed.

She had been too young to be a full-blown flower-child, so she wasn’t too f**ked up by the acid. She was sweet and down to earth. But that changed.  She seemed to see things that weren’t there. We would be having breakfast in the sun, and she would suddenly go quiet, and stare in front of her with a weird intensity. As if a sheet of an odd colour had sheathed her eyes, as if a swarm of insects was crawling over our table, and she was keeping tabs on their transit. Sometimes she had that curious, somewhat amused look in her eyes when she stared at me.

Then came the physical changes. She lost weight, her face became pale, her jaw started clenching in a ravenous grin. Later, I noticed a spot in her back, a dark abrasion. She said she had burnt herself with a candle at one of the meetings. She began wearing a t-shirt when she came to bed. She hid her back from me. One morning, she got out from the shower while I was in bed, and I saw her reflected in the mirror. She must have thought I was asleep. I was half asleep. I’m not sure what I saw. The mark had spread across her back. I used to work in a hospital. I had never seen anything like that. I blinked. I think I saw it pulse, crawl.

I was planning to confront her in the evening when she came back from her meeting. She never came back. I received a note from her bidding me farewell. No explanations, a big secret lurking unacknowledged under her cold words of departure.

I never saw her again, or maybe I did. One night while I was walking through Alamo Park, I saw a lonely figure standing there, a tramp, bloated and covered in rags like a forlorn scarecrow, a scarf over its face, it stood there surrounded by snarling stray dogs, I looked at it, and I saw those eyes, the same mocking eyes, a glimmer of recognition, also desperation. And then a thousand dark shadows exploded into the night sky like liquid ravens. I ran away, I didn’t look back.

A few months later, there was a scandal surrounding the Nob Hill property t were Haxtur’s group used to meet before he left town. Personnel at the Sanitation department dug up the cellar because of a foul stench. They found several deformed skeletons buried there. When they tested them, they couldn’t establish their age. They couldn’t even determine if they were human.

I saw a photo of one of the skulls they had found. There was a horrible familiarity. It was that grin, that dreadful, soul starved grin! God have mercy on her soul, that was her final transformation!

Everyone will surely know by now that The Haxan Cloak is seriously hot shit. We had the privilege of watching his show at the majestic Outer Church a couple of weeks ago, and it blew us away. Rather, it sucked us in into a vortex which is Edgar Allan Poe Northern Sea dirge and modern composition drone, also the dark cave where pre-human tribes developed their first myths, which in a barely evolved form haunt us to this day. Like the Cave of Forgotten Dreams, if directed by Lucio Fulci.

The Haxan Cloak – The Fall

As included in the S/T album out in Aurora Borealis.

(Log of the CCTV footage at the Cube Club, First of XXXXXX of 20XX, 3.30am-4.10am)

3.30.23 – Grainy zoetrope of people in the dancefloor, the usual transit in the toilets. It eerily resembles a video from within an ant hive.

3.45.41 – Augment that shot. Zoom in at the back, in the shadows of the DJ booth. A pale oval face floating in the primal darkness, black lips maybe smirking. It’s hard to tell at this resolution. That is the DJ, do we have an id on the DJ? I think he’s wearing a mask.

3.46.02 – It’s not a mask. He just opened his mouth. That is a big mouth. What is he doing? He is vomiting a dark liquid. Impossible to tell what it is. Could it be blood? It looks like oil! No one seems to have noticed in the dancefloor. They are still dancing.

3.46.12 – A change of mood. Everyone has stopped dancing, they look around them and at each other, as if some invisible hunter was circling them, closing in for the kill. Shame we don’t have an audio feed for this. They are talking. Their body language is worried, increasingly fearful.

3.47.02 – Just as they start moving out of the dancefloor, an explosion of light blinding like a magnesium flare, then darkness. You can imagine the screams.

3.47.08 – Blurred snapshots generated by a high frequency strobe. Are they dancing again? There is something odd about their movement. Insectoid. Fluid. Hold on there, look at that blade. Do we have a knife?

3.47.10 –I can’t tell whether it is a knife or someone’s arm. Are these the same people? That girl there is definitely getting stabbed. There is someone on the floor there, they are trampling him.

3.47.15 – It is impossible to tell them apart from each other, what is that prehensile thing flailing blindly in the middle of the dancefloor, it looks like a large tail or a tentacle. Do we have an id on the perp?

3.47.20 – There are many. They all seem to be brandishing one of those strange knives. I think they are attacking each other. I think they are the people that were at the club before. But they have changed. Too many limbs. Look at their faces, oh god, their faces.

3.49.30 – Zoom in at the back. The DJ is definitely smiling that horrible smile of his. There is something smug about him, a priest celebrating a solemn ceremony.

3.50.52 – The strobe reaches fever pitch, the crowd in the dancefloor has become an indistinct mass, protruding a multitude of tendrils trashing wildly like an impossible amoeba. I can’t believe this is happening.

3.57.11 – The strobe slows down, everything is quiet now, the dancefloor is covered in offal, twitching spasmodically. The walls are smeared with blood. Hold on, who is that?

3.59.02 – Someone’s alive! Got an id on Dean Castoriadis. He is walking towards the booth, the DJ is still there.

4.02.05 – They are both in there. Staring at the carnage below.

4.05.45 – A light behind them. A door opening? I didn’t know the club had an exit there.

4.07.12 –It doesn’t. This doesn’t make any sense. Whatever it is, they have gone through it, they are gone.

AIDS Wolf – Please Hold the Line

AIDS Wolf are the propeller for an experimental fixed wing jet developed by a cadre of Tourette’s syndrome afflicted Lockheed engineers. It was never launched in the market because it tore passenger’s faces upon take off. The evidence suggests that some primitive variants of this propeller have been developed by hobbyists using stole schemata, and installed in the floor of underground nightclubs. When activated, they make the cityscape blink, and the freaks fly in a whirlwind witch dance somewhere in between the Wizard of Oz and the Evil Dead.

Please Hold the Line is included in Ma vie banale avant-garde, which you should order from Lovepump. Watch the video here.

 

Out of spinning metal sheets come words

spinning metal blades

Your head spins and reality parses itself into pixels. You push harder on through the forest of ones and zeros. Distantly you hear the sounds of whistling metal – a shiny, singing sound. But the texture of your surroundings are too tantalising for danger to appear plausible, or tangible, or even describable.

Out of spinning metal sheets come words.

Spinning blocks of grey and amber eventually coalesce into a stone room, bathed in soft, hypnagogic torchlight. In the centre of the room is a stone lecturn. On the lecturn is a laptop. Swaying from hip to hip behind the laptop is a woman, eyes fixated on the LCD screen, her face rotates between lust and disgust.

“At night, I watch people fucking on my computer…”

Is she singing to you or no one? Herself or the apparitions on her computer?

Jenny Hval – Innocence Is Kinky

I FEEEEEL DEEESIRE. Her head throws back and vomits a stream of pixels at the ceiling, which cascade down the stone walls in tumbling, Lego block fragments of pornography.

You inch forwards, mesmerised. She flickers. Her dancing is jagged, never fully buffering.

“Like sex without the bodies,” she mutters, a spell. “Like smoke rings from my pussy.”

You reach out to touch, the torches flame up into a world-razing solar flare and she screams: “More to burning and SEX and GOD!!!”

When the fire clears you hear the metal before you see it. You dodge the first blade, a circular saw spinning through the wall to your right. You duck the second – screaming down from the ceiling. It’s the third that gets you, when the stone floor turns into a treadmill and you go whooshing back straight into the slice of an atom-flaying blade behind you.

The Haxan Clock – Excavation (Part 2)

Go back to the beginning.

2013 References

The photography accompanying this entry is from Lisa Byrne‘s amazing pinhole long exposures of couples fucking. Jenny Hval made our art pop album of 2013 – a brilliant, provocative piece of art that was indeed also pop! The Haxan Cloak had a pretty phenomenal 2013, crossing over from drone marginality to near-mainstream acceptance.