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the haxan cloak - The Haxan Cloak
*Re-press at long last available again* Beguiling, unsettling and deeply mysterious, The Haxan Cloak's eponymous debut album is a riveting experience. In case Demdike Stare hadn't inspired you to read up on the pre-1900 occult, the term "Häxan" is an old German word for witchcraft, a theme shared by the two artists besides their northern English latitude (which would technically intersect with northern Germany, geography geeks!). But for that, and the monotone artwork aside, The Haxan Cloak takes a very different approach to his craft, one rooted in his studies in sound art and more concerned with "the very real potential and power of the actual physical properties of sound" he can elicit from treated strings and primal percussion, and the space between them. His unrevealed, alchemical processes summon an immersive spectrum of ethereal drones and often shocking sounds, from the nerve-jangling, near-infrasonic subbass fluctuations of 'Fall', to the stereo-dynamic fata morgana of 'The Growing'. Occuring at the apex of the album, this astonishing track is a work of pure black magic sorcery, transporting us through a digital wormhole into shuddering, hallucinatory electro-acoustics and heart-quaking subs to a climax of percussion recalling both Zoviet*France and Scorn. Equally, when focussed on strings the effect is vividly arresting, like with the petrified drones of 'In Memoriam' or the sustained dissonance of 'Parting Chant', both achieving something more than just an evocative cinematic appeal. There's a more hallucinatory and abstract narrative to these compositions, which may be dissipated with leaden concrete imagery. The finely rendered mixing and dynamics create an illusory space all of their own, much akin to Raime's breathtaking gothic architectures, but probably more connected with the likes of KTL and Sunn 0))) overlord, Stephen O'Malley. A massive recommendation.