It feels as though an ice-age has passed since last we heard from Bobby Krlic, AKA The Haxan Cloak, the mysterious man who thoroughly entranced us with his chill-inducing debut full-length on Aurora Borealis last year. In reality it has been less than eighteen months, but time between releases often feels so much longer when one is anticipating them so much, right?
Between that initial release and now Krlic has left Aurora Borealis for the somewhat more electronically-inclined Tri Angle Records, played live a few times and remixed a few acts of a Witch House and Electro-bent, but put out no releases of his own aside from a re-release of his limited Observatory 12”, making this session for Southern’s Latitudes imprint his first new material since the self-titled album.
As it happens, the Observatory material is a much more fitting point of reference for this recording. Consisting of one long track coming in just shy of half an hour, The Men Parted The Sea To Devour The Water bears very little resemblance to the weighty, portentous atmosphere of The Haxan Cloak, with none of the creaking, groaning ambience, cello-scraping and sheer cold-sweat dread that characterises that recording.
Instead we have something that moves in similar circles to Observatory and its sister track Hounfour (Temple), in which moody loops of distant chorals and a twinkling, kaleidoscopic shimmer of sweet bell-like notes are given the Philip Glass treatment and tightly looped in and out of phase whilst Krlic weaves a rhythmic workout around them.
Starting with those moody chorals and analogue 808-style synth bass, the loops tighten up and become more minimal in execution as a series of starkly complex rhythms twist across the track. Krlic has said in interviews that tracks like this reflect him essentially remixing his own source material on the fly and this is essentially how The Haxan Cloak works in a live environment. It’s certainly more kinetic than the self-titled material, and makes it easy to see why Krlic took The Haxan Cloak to Tri Angle, but it feels as though it’s missing the sheer depth of the material from the debut album.
The minimalist percussion carries much of the track, aside from tightly cut loops of one sound or another, and the shimmering Glass-isms that make up the latter part of the track are gorgeous, but it just lacks the sheer atmospheric weight of The Haxan Cloak. Even the heftier tones that creep in during the final moments seem light in comparison to what we’ve heard from Krlic before.
Here’s hoping that this EP is simply a bridging-point between full-length recordings and not too much of a future portent.
It feels as though Krlic has delivered a light snack when we were hungering for a feast and I hope that by the time the feast arrives, it will be enough to sate our appetites.
Scribed by: Paul Robertson