Joy O meets Sun O))) in a thrilling collision of sounds.
The Haxan Cloak is a recording alias of Bobby Krlic, a London-based artist who is poised to release his next album through Tri Angle. Like Krlic's eponymous 2011-released debut, Excavation is nothing short of pitch-black in tone, but achieves its aims by very different means. Where the last record was rooted in performance—violin, cello, guitar etc—Excavation is a meditation on sound design. Source material is pulled apart and then reconstructed to form dank rhythmic frameworks, while the droning strings of The Haxan Cloak give way to more electronic-focussed textures. Comparisons to Shackleton, Sun O))), Demdike Stare and Raime have all attached themselves to Krlic since he first surfaced in 2009, and while they've certainly helped to ballpark his brand of blackened electronics, his recorded music and live performances have been far too fluid for quick categorization.
Taking his RA podcast as "an excuse to make some new music that I might not normally make," Krlic has edited tracks by Burning Star Core and Prurient, Sunn O))) and Boards of Canada on a mix that draws as much influence from metal as it does from dance.
What have you been up to recently?
Working on my live show—mapping it all out to different pieces of hardware and beefing it all up to demolish the sound system at my album launch next week.
How and where was the mix recorded?
The mix was put together on my computer. I made some of it in my studio in London, and some of it at my girlfriend's grandma's house in a quiet little town in Sweden.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
With this mix I really wanted to use it as an excuse to make some new music that I might not normally make, so tracks where it says "Haxan Cloak edit" is basically me using the originals as samples and making my own tracks out of them. I really liked the idea of making some kind of odd techno track out of Burning Star Core or Kevin Drumm.
You played all the instruments yourself on The Haxan Cloak. Was this also the case on Excavation?
Yeah, in a way. My role was quite different on this album when compared to the last one. With the first record, my role was primarily as a performer; I didn't want the album to be entrenched in the presence of the computer or technology. Anything I played on that record, I was conscious of making it sound as good as possible before it was recorded, and playing it as faithfully as I could, so that it wouldn't need to be altered too much afterward.
With Excavation, my role shifted from performer to sound designer/arranger, really. I was more interested in quickly capturing really interesting, spontaneous sounds and then breaking them down with the computer or whatever other hardware I had around me. It was like applying a very liberal magnifying glass to the sound; breaking it down into all its different components and then rearranging those. I really wanted to break all the sounds apart and paint with the textures that were left. I think there are a lot of sounds on the record that would surprise people if I told them that they came from field recordings and weren't synthesized.
Would you say that more traditional forms of dance music inform your work?
Yes and no. I listen to a lot of dance music, certainly, but no more than I listen to any other kind of music, really. I felt that, with this record, I could showcase a broader side of my production and of my palette, but only because it served the concept of what I wanted the record to be. The hardest part of making this record was restraint, and trying to only include elements that were absolutely necessary to serve the intent of the piece of music.
What are you up to next?
On the 8th of June I will be premiering a new piece of music commissioned for the Spitalfields festival. This is in response to a piece of music by 16th century composer John Dowland, and will incorporate a live drummer also. Before and after that point I will be touring pretty extensively—I'm playing the closing party at Primavera in Barcelona, which I'm really excited about.