Alexander Hacke - Sanctuary

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Last up is “Brush/Throat”, sounding like a Tibetan monastery field recording, (the monks blowing those big trumpet contraptions, the name of which, for the moment, escapes me) but accompanied by an idiot on kazoo.


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This is a real cracker of an album, very diverse indeed (though in reality that should come as no surprise) and quite playful, I'd say it has quite a lot in common with releases by Moebius, Faust or Conny Plank.


 


Starting off with the maudlin sound of a chain gang, the music quickly morphs into a meditational piece built round a recording of a self defence lecture ("Sister"). The tension builds slowly through "Love Me Love My Dog"; the song-structures as such always content to take a back seat in the face of some quite ecclectic sampling. The reference to Conny Plank can be pin-pointed on "Sonntag" where the German voices and weird electronic backing don't half remind me of Plank releases such as "Rastakrautpasta". "Sanctuary" is the moment when the damm breaks, though its not apparent at first with the futuristic synths and wobbly sounds seemingly heralding another meditational piece. At one point it could be a very stoned "Trans Europe Express". Three minutes in we get the guitars, which continue to get louder, though the pace is still that of a komodo dragon. It truly is very menacing music, fitting for the Gulag chain gang methinks. Five minutes in we get vocals which re-enforce the mood of gloomy introspection. Then we get guitar overload. Great stuff.


 


"Yours Truly" starts like an excerpt from the Faust Tapes (or the Goon show). A groaning noise intervenes into what could be a lot of sheep run amok in a bell foundry or a clock factory, (take your pick). "Seven" starts on a similarly cacophonic note, only for the twiddling to be swept away by some very brutal guitars. It becomes a very monoglot, riff-ridden track, interspersd at times with some mad twangy guitars and sinister breathing. "Per Sempre Butterfly" brings a change of mood from the bolshy introspection found on earlier tracks; the cracked female vocals adding a soaring, Baroque quality that windswept synths and tabla rhythms only enlarge.


 


"All American Happy Hour" is seemingly set on a building site, (where someone's found an old battered electric guitar). A voice that sounds for a moment uncannily like Jack Nicholson's starts to intone a stream of consciousness with the accent firmly on murder and dysfunction (no, it wasn't going to be about ice cream, was it?) Still it is affecting stuff. "Sugarpie" enters courtesy of a prehistoric base line and stripped back guitar. A preacher's voice starts to tell us how to "perform a funeral". How nice. The music becomes more "unconventional" once synths are added to the mix, unharnessed, they emit awful squeaking noises, only cut off by a wailing voice. Here comes the preacher again, quite disconcerting now I've listened to those synths, I have to declare. This continues in one of the musical guises so described for a full ten minutes, and is possibly the best track on the album.


 


Last up is "Brush/Throat", sounding like a Tibetan monastery field recording, (the monks blowing those big trumpet contraptions, the name of which, for the moment, escapes me) but accompanied by an idiot on kazoo. Its a great, sublime ending, and is similar in spirit to Julian Cope's "Odin".


 


My advice? Buy this album


 


Words: Richard Foster