The Haxan Cloak
“The Mirror Reflecting (Part 2)”

If an audacious enough director were to scoop up “The Mirror Reflecting (Part 2)” and lay it atop a low-lit sequence in his glossy new film, accompanying images of powerful machinery, great cities at dusk, or exotic copper-skinned dancers in a hall of mirrors (as the song suggests), The Haxan Cloak might start to look like an even darker sibling to Johnny Jewel’s Chromatics. Listen to the entirety of The Haxan Cloak’s upcoming Excavation, however, and stark differences emerge. Excavation tends to function largely in loops and meditation; “The Mirror Reflecting (Part 2),” with its forward momentum, represents the album’s exception rather than the rule. Whereas Johnny Jewel has now, for better or worse, been married to the image of a car’s odyssey in the night, The Haxan Cloak’s music feels much closer to spelunking. Hence the title, Excavation!

All said, at over 7 minutes, “The Mirror Reflecting (Part 2)” does achieve an expansiveness and transportive hypnosis that would stand out on any album, regardless of that album’s mood or mode of movement. Although the album features a journey of descent, this track is akin to coming up for a breath; as it amasses layers, amounting to a finale of melodic bursts, it’s like a headful of crisp nighttime light and air.

Excavation will be released in North America April 30 from TriAngle Records.

• The Haxan Cloak: http://haxancloak.tumblr.com/
• TriAngle Records: http://tri-anglerecords.com/

The Haxan Cloak

“The Mirror Reflecting (Part 2)”

If an audacious enough director were to scoop up “The Mirror Reflecting (Part 2)” and lay it atop a low-lit sequence in his glossy new film, accompanying images of powerful machinery, great cities at dusk, or exotic copper-skinned dancers in a hall of mirrors (as the song suggests), The Haxan Cloak might start to look like an even darker sibling to Johnny Jewel’s Chromatics. Listen to the entirety of The Haxan Cloak’s upcoming Excavation, however, and stark differences emerge. Excavation tends to function largely in loops and meditation; “The Mirror Reflecting (Part 2),” with its forward momentum, represents the album’s exception rather than the rule. Whereas Johnny Jewel has now, for better or worse, been married to the image of a car’s odyssey in the night, The Haxan Cloak’s music feels much closer to spelunking. Hence the title, Excavation!

All said, at over 7 minutes, “The Mirror Reflecting (Part 2)” does achieve an expansiveness and transportive hypnosis that would stand out on any album, regardless of that album’s mood or mode of movement. Although the album features a journey of descent, this track is akin to coming up for a breath; as it amasses layers, amounting to a finale of melodic bursts, it’s like a headful of crisp nighttime light and air.

Excavation will be released in North America April 30 from TriAngle Records.

• The Haxan Cloak: http://haxancloak.tumblr.com/
• TriAngle Records: http://tri-anglerecords.com/

Mykki Blanco

“Feeling Special”

Mykki Blanco in this TRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAP! Who that is on the corner with the shoulders and wig? Getting me all “Feeling Special,” mmph! This that trap-sex tune up in the deep-shit. Betty keeping her bone straight in there, tapping at your heart strings: pump after pump. And as “Karma Police” as this video appears, it’s NOT. Mykki ONLY lives and performs in reincarnation form. Also, these subliminal texts and flashing images are stimulating all sorts of hardened desires. LOL — “Why the chicken cross the road? You mean, that chicken-head ho?”

Dunno how I feel about this being in any relation to MTV, but Mykki gets hers, feel me? Saw her perform while I worked the free-beer bar at Unisex Earplug in Austin, TX. Had me five Resin cans during her 30-minute set. Tossed a few cans out into the crowed. There were CHILDREN standing in front of the bar when she had her ass out. TMT brings that class. Mykki climbing on everything. Giving a very one-of-a-kind performance @CHILDACTOR. Whenever I axed someone which SXSW live act they enjoyed most, answer was and still is: MYKKI BLANCO. Get “Feeling Special” this Thursday to maximize your rabbit hole love.

For more info on Blanco’s tour and new EP, Betty Rubble: The Initiation, go here.

• Mykki Blanco: http://mykkiblancoworld.com

Lord RAJA

Rubies EP

These RAJA releases come outta nowhere. The first I heard of this kid was in 2011 with The October Series, which was something like 72 tracks spread across three mixes titled Red, White, and Color. I can’t think of a release I liked more than those three in 2011. In fact, I can’t think of anything in 2012 that I liked more than those three mixes. The Rubies EP is right up there with The October Series, though it’s much, much shorter. With all of the salivating tape-hiss and homages to other producers still in place, this short one from RAJA is shaping up to be a 2013 favorite for me already, and I’ve only been listening to it for about a week.

Check out the Rubies EP below:

• (Lord) RAJA: https://soundcloud.com/lordraja
• Ghostly: http://www.ghostly.com

The Cyclist

“Bones in Motion”

Currently, scientists off the coast of all coasts are creating the first man-made human. This ain’t no joke. And proof is popping up on mainlands. Yet, the main-island laboratory has only produced the entire internal skeleton and some organs: the brain, eyes, some vocal processing, lungs, a heartbeat, all stuffed with tubes until further… more. Frighteningly enough, this man-made human so far can’t turn colors to images, and since it’s been placed within a tank of liquid, the blur of sight strengthens and will eventually enhance its vision. This “project” has the potential to become a perfectly evolved human.

However, as all humans, this one has a common hobby: dancing. And when it puts those “Bones in Motion,” dancing in color and smeared visuals become their own versions of clubbing. Usually it dances while one scientist, dubbed The Cyclist, hops on her stationary bike and rides to burn while listening to “endless possibilities of electronic music,” as other listeners/witnesses have attested. She provides joy and release in the mind of this “project” and actually made it possible for the “project” to enjoy its hobby of dancing whenever it wishes. The Cyclist also made it available to the public in cassette and double LP formats on Leaving Records, dedicating the title to all Bones in Motion within natural life.

• The Cyclist: https://soundcloud.com/the-cyclist
• Leaving Records: http://leavingrecords.com

Ten Kens

“Gently Used”

Ten Kens’ new video for “Gently Used” is a work of masterful, nuanced menace. Its images have a subtle power to discomfit. Their ambiguity is flustering. We watch, but witness what? Is that the meiosis of zygotes? Or maybe they’re abdomens mirrored in the lotus Kama Sutra. When we see the hint of a hand, is its grip babelicious or barbaric? Regardless, it’s clear the images offer us biology — specifically, the science of humans — which should by all means be familiar. But it is not. Somehow, instead, it’s abject, just as Ten Kens intend.

There’s no doubt that the primary concern of “Gently Used” is a relationship, and at that relationship’s core is something physical. But the question, I think, is whether that physicality is bringing the bodies closer together or tearing those bodies apart. (I think Ian Curtis once wrote a song riffing on a similar theme.) Even this track’s title offers malice — one’s imagination need not be too terribly vast to encompass a few of the ways in which a person might be “gently used.”

The song itself, shifting between its diffident coos and its occasional booming chant, presents two of the possible personalities in this kind of dramatic relationship. And the video seems intent to offer an almost literal representation of the euphemistic “beast with two backs.” The “two-ness” is pervasive. One considers how this breed of physicality is unique: it requires two autonomous bodies in order to exist, but in its act of generation, it’s perfectly possible that one half is utter victim while the other plays the “beast’s” entirety.

So: no, “Gently Used” is not exactly gentle. But it is a work of precision and finesse. Subject matter this complex deserves nothing less. The scene is exquisitely rendered, regardless of whether you decide it’s one of rapture or one of emotions being rent apart. Ten Kens pose a savage dilemma: Is any emotion sacred? Or is it all just biology after all?

“Gently Used” is premiered here, thanks to their own Ten Kens Records, who will be releasing Namesake on May 21.

• Ten Kens: http://www.tenkens.com

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we'll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.