Vorarephilia is the fetish of being eaten by another person or being. If you were to magnify that into the act of being swallowed by a black hole, you might have some idea of the pleasure to be found in The Haxan Cloak‘s Excavation. Replacing the harshness of his debut with a deep, dense sparseness, it’s the aural equivalent to being drawn down into a void—”Consumed”—and then turned into energy for an unimaginable cosmic engine.
There’s an organic feeling to the nine tracks here, in the manner of soil or the deepest ocean trenches. The sounds pack themselves into your ears, slowly overtaking consciousness. The listener is lulled into the pulsing womb of “Excavation” parts one and two, the lurking and incessant watch-ticks in the background as hypnotizing as they are claustrophobic. The cyclic drones of “Mara” grind the body down into the state of post-matter, introducing Void where once was existence. “Miste”, then, is the release: rebirth, regurgitation, the gasping struggle of suffocation. Even when the album makes use of solemn silences, such as on “The Mirror Reflecting 1”, it’s the silence of tension, dreadful expectation. By contrast, “The Mirror Reflecting 2”, with its touches of cello and swaying, looped synths, feels almost elegant, though no less terrifying in its majesty. Even the bell-toned stabs of grand guignol finale “Drop”, gentle at first but soon descending back into the depths, provide no respite from the maw. The distant sound of gently slashed string instruments echoes like a foghorn, but there’s no light to find. You are indeed consumed, and it is beautiful.
A colleague of mine recently waxed nostalgic about the collapse of acid’s buoyant mood, lamenting the rise of sludgy, drone-based techno like The Haxan Cloak, Andy Stott and Vatican Shadow. I feel it’s exactly what techno needs; imagine a night in the biggest club in town, playing nothing but thick, massive compositions to a fog-soaked, swaying crowd, the bass less propulsive than it is all-devouring. Powerful music made not for dancing, but for worshipping. What is a club, after all, if not a church for sound?
Excavation will be released on April 15th by Tri Angle.