There’s an assumed sigh when the term “drone” comes into play. As a sub-genre, it’s cryptic, off-putting, and faceless. There’s no flash. In fact, drone stands out solely on an aesthetic island for being as anti-flash as humanly expressible. But the passive disinterest misses nuance.
Excavation, the newest album from London producer Bobby Krlic, a k a The Haxan Cloak, plays with that nuanced landscape and carves into it deeper emotional pits that are easy to miss. It crawls, slowly and supremely, with innumerable textures laced in the darkest patterns. Once the clenching rise of the aptly titled “Consumed” begins, it surrounds the listener in an inescapable Kubrickian haze. There’s no way out but through the darkness that Krlic paints here.
The further and further that Excavation, his first album on Tri Angle Records, evolves, the further the drone idea curves. While its dark and inhuman textures aren’t easily accessible, it creates an epilogue of emotional expulsion that ends up being quite resonant. That, in part, comes from Krlic’s platform of ideas.
The album follows the collective pattern from Krlic’s 2011 self-titled debut, which traces a person’s final days before death. Excavation, in this case, plays the role of the afterlife as a soundtrack of the journey–acting as a sequel to his first LP. That theme of death is easily apparent, as it is with much of the drone movement, because the compositions transfix so well with the moribund nature of it.
And in that is where the magnificence of the aforementioned nuance rears so wonderfully. Excavation actually sounds like death for what it really is; mysterious. The rhythmic patterns throughout the 50-plus minutes jilt and stutter as if the journey of the afterlife isn’t paved, but alone and seemingly endless. The fear of the unknown, as is usually a play with the idea of death, divulges itself on the album to another level–that is, what if the actual afterlife is also unknown? What if the journey is aimless and vacant? What if the endless movement of the afterlife is all that it is?
It’s a massively endless concept that Krlic put forth, without any certainty of what each altering pattern intends to convey. The relative vagueness, in this case, comes off as a construct of strength. As Krlic previously explained about his process, much of what he did was simply play with elements. The bass throughout the albums comes in different pitches, with Krylic adding and subtracting weight to the instrumentation at times. This adds constant layers to the sequences, giving a profound vague emptiness surrounding it all.
So while Excavation doesn’t parlay particularly recognizable flash in a familiar context, it offers a powerful alternative–an unaccountable daunting feeling. Krlic, who recorded the album in a nine-hour straight session, swam through a myriad of ideas not simply rooted in steps, but clouded concepts. It’s menace works not as individual pieces, as Excavation is one immense movement. And the only way out is through the darkness.