“Sanctuary” by Alexander Hacke

May 17. 2005 | By B.W. Liou

Alexander Hacke
[Kool Arrow Records]

A member of Germany’s Einsturzende Neubauten, one of several avant-garde bands who pioneered industrial music in the 1980s, Alexander Hacke has waited more than two decades to release his solo debut, Sanctuary. It is, without mincing words, stunning yet jarring, delicate yet sinister.

Founded on the framework that location impacts perception, Hacke traveled around the world for the past two years to jam with innovators in the noise-rock scene such as J.G. Thirlwell of Foetus, Vinnie Signiorelli of Unsane, David Yow of The Jesus Lizard, and Nils Wohlrabe of The Leather Nun.

Capturing snippets from these sessions, Hacke re-assembled the audio into eleven tracks that weave international influences, electronic glitches, found-sounds from the mundane every day and plenty of guitar feedback.

Managing to be both cinematically far-reaching and intimate, Sanctuary is an aural feast. “Sister” dances melodic guitars behind propulsive drums while an instructional monologue drills self-defense tactics. With the repetitive droning of “block, throat shot, rake, kick to the face,” the voyeuristic track nearly imposes a feminine stance on the listener. “Sonntag” begins with what sounds like a dubbed out rubber-band plucking, eventually folding in a Spanish guitar and elements of trip-hop with lasers firing to and fro. “Sanctuary,” however, is the album’s zenith, a dark, moody piece that builds into a frenzy of metal, strings and menacing vocals.

The wide range of music is hard to believe and sometimes to digest (check out the saxophone squeals amidst the assortments of alarm-clock irritations on “Yours Truly”), but there is such an intensity, it’s hard not to be drawn in.

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