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The Hafler Trio
"Kill the King"
by: Zero Sharp

Alongside their music, one of the most interesting things about the Hafler Trio is the fact that they spread so much incorrect and inaccurate information regarding themselves that its rather difficult to figure out much about them. One thing is clear, the Hafler Trio has been around for quite a while, and in that time, they've put out quite a number of brilliant pioneering releases. It's rather hard to classify their work as they range from sonic research lectures with background soundscapes to things sounding much like dance tracks. However, until recently, much of it was very out of print. Andrew MacKenzie, the sole remaining member of the group (at most, it was a duo with a third cited, but possibly non-existent, or at the very least deceased), is starting to work to get many of the older classic releases reprinted in shiny new packaging.

"Kill the King" was originally the first album in a trilogy that is considered some of the Hafler Trio's best work to date. (The other two, "Mastery of Money" and "How to Reform Mankind," are also up for repressing at some later date.) The repressing and packaging is done extremely tastefully and well, with one exception. As I don't have the original, I cannot verify this, however, this pressing has no track breaks. I can appreciate the art of it if it was, indeed, intentional, however, for an album that's over an hour long with seven track names listed, it's a bit of a drag. Music-wise, the album is incredible. It starts with "maps of sand dunes," a woman speaking in a near monotone about changing various aspects of her voice. The irony is not lost on the listener, and the whole exercise is rather entertaining. About eleven minutes in, crackling sounds in the background are joined by very controlled scream sounds, giving a haunting impression of robotic need. One of the brilliant pieces hits its stride at around sixteen minutes in; a cold drone with mechanical and computeresque background give the impression that one is floating in space with HAL as your only companion. The nice thing about not having those pesky track breaks is the elegance the Hafler Trio brings in new themes and tracks. The pieces are all linked slowly together and they are allowed to mix liberally, and the divisions of where a new song starts and another ends are not, in fact, clear at all. Thirty minutes in comes one of the best transitions as faint screaming starts in one ear overtaking quick, cold digital oscillation. Simple tones are brought in later, and at times, it seems even as the music will break out into beat. Towards the end, the soundscapes get a little more noisy, but never become outright violent. Elegance is central to this work, and the Hafler Trio execute it flawlessly. This album is a journey through territory that seems as if it should be familiar, and the fact that it is always slightly unclassifiable is what makes the trip all the more interesting in the face of the more standard ambient music out there.

I highly recommend getting this; even now, this makes the music in genres close to the niche this inhabits pale in comparison.



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