Published Aug 07, 2018Known by a select few as one of Canada's most intriguing cult artists, Bruce Haack always strived for mainstream acceptance. In the '50s and '60s, the Alberta native acted as an early pioneer of the synthesizer, composing for theatre, writing songs for kids, recording music for Kraft and Parker Brothers commercials, and appearing on Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.
But Haack's true ambition may have been fully realized when it was discovered that he left behind a whopping 213 reels of recordings after his death in 1988. Preservation Tapes confusingly collects just ten of these tracks, with the majority coming from a session recorded for American Christian label, Sparrow Records, during his creative peak in the early '70s.
Justifiably, Haack's religious-themed work remains tempered and straightforward — allowing vocoder-laden lyrics like, "Count your blessings one-by-one, you'll be surprised what the Lord has done" — to sit front and centre in the mix. But there are great and strange moments spread throughout this collection, including the faux-California (or maybe Romanian) spoken word interludes on "Little Things" and "Untitled #3," and the rubbery cover of the 1860's Christian kids hymn, "Jesus Loves Me."
But it's the utterly baffling and frustrating choice to jam Haack's 27-minute 1982 hip-hop fusion track "Party Machine" (which, in itself, is pretty amazing) and the awful blue-eyed soul of "Untitled #4" into the middle of the album that kills the momentum of this intriguing listen.
Given that Haack left the world with so much unheard music, it's hard not to view Preservation Tapes as nothing more than a poorly thrown together mishmash of material from a man who constantly strived for perfection. (Telephone Explosion)