The Haxan Cloak

Blue Stage, Union Park, Chicago IL, July 18

The Haxan CloakBlue Stage, Union Park, Chicago IL, July 18
Photo: Ellie Pritts
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To see Haxan Cloak not just as actual people creating the otherworldly transmissions, but to be doing so in daylight, was jarring. As Bobby Krlic and drummer Alvin Lee Ryan hammered into "Consumed" from Pitchfork Music Festival's Blue Stage, they managed to make their harrowing noir minimalism feel gargantuan. Impressive, especially, was the the way the two stayed expertly in sync, especially at such slow tempos.

Sonically, it was par for the Haxan course: wave after wave of thunderous noise, punctuated occasionally by twisted vocals or clattering drum kit climaxes. The duo played mostly from their latest album, Excavation, but fans weren't there for particular songs (if you can call what they compose songs); rather, they create a mood so transfixing that the slightest addition to the sound — a cymbal here, a kick drum there — feels monumental.

Despite the puffs of pot smoke emitting from the crowd, there was something oddly sobering, disciplined about the horror they were shaping onstage. Even in the moments of quiet, Krlic and Ryan were obsessively focused on their instruments, intently filling them with snare brushes and gentle scraping soundscapes. Somewhere between aural lecture and hypnosis session, the Haxan Cloak are a dark and compelling live experience, even in broad daylight.

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