Flashback: Alexander Hacke – Sanctuary (CD Review)

I should have expected experimental music from one of the Einsturzende Neubauten band members, but still, the opening track “Minnie & Me” shocked me at the first go around. The vaguely-tribal, ghostly vocals present on that track cannot be anything but disjointed, and I almost feel as if Hacke’s purpose with this track is provide a disjointed viewpoint. The second track, “Sister” is just the incorporation of Bon Jovi-esque guitar liens over top of a woman’s self-defense movie from the seventies, in what turns out to be a hot, pseudo-dance track. The first few tracks together do not weigh up chronologically to the disc’s first epic, the very guitar-influenced and almost-industrial “Sanctuary”. Some of the arrangements begin to show some wear after they’ve been repeated for over a minute, but after the vocals start up (only six minutes in!), a Nine Inch Nails-esque feel is given to the track. Different sections dominate the track’s landscape, and it is through these sections that the listener can actually get an idea on the mental workings of Hacke.

The atmosphere of the disc takes a much darker tone during “Yours Truly”, where a balloon-releasing-air like horn dominates the track, which itself has a very circus-like atmosphere. To be honest, “Seven” maintains much of this same sound, but Hacke’s vocals boom throughout the track, almost as if he is being amplified, a person that stands above the track. A White Zombie/Ministry-like industrial rock is the fare pandered on “Seven”, which uses solid, straight-forward guitars to rein in the increasingly-chaotic drums on the track. The female vocals on “Per Sempre Butterfly”, reminiscent of Diamanda Galas give “Sanctuary” an emotion that has been largely deficient among the cold metal constructs of Hacke. In a masterful fit of naming, “All American Happy Hour” has those flourishes that screaming American – the surfer-esque guitars, those Janet Jackson-like samples, all subserviated to the John Wayne-like vocals found on the track. The second epic of the disc, “Sugarpie” is much more seductive and sultry than anything on the disc. Gone are the brash sounds of prior tracks, replaced with a much more low-key bassy synthesizer and ample quotes from movies long forgot. Hacke’s guest stars get into a groove that cannot be stopped mid-track, and it is this that really pushes the disc to its inevitable conclusion, instead of the “true” ending track. “Sanctuary” is a messed-up album, but has a surprising cohesion amongst the tracks that really makes it endearing.

Top Tracks: Sanctuary, Sugarpie

Rating: 5.9/10

Alexander Hacke – Sanctuary / 2005 Koolarrow / 11 Tracks / http://www.koolarrow.com / Reviewed 02 April 2005

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