Halaka – A Translucent Gold Statue, a Hole

A Translucent Gold Statue, a Hole

Squalls of feedback! Atonal harmonies! Tape loops! Reverb-drenched vocal choruses! Non-harmonic riffs! – man, it sure felt good to get all that out. You and I know that while all that looks good on paper, cramming a bunch of tricks like that into an album is a mug’s game. For every Ian Williams and Martin Swope there’re a billion hacks, and non-traditional song structures are – oh, the mail’s here? What’ve we … ooh, my promos came! What’s all this Halaka jazz? Tell you what; why don’t you come back in an hour so I can listen to this album and we can finish this discussion.
One convenient hour later…
Yes. Well. You may have inferred, from the way I’m agitatedly clenching the edge of the table and glowering, that this album has, unwittingly, added tremendously to our previous topic of conversation. If ever there were a cautionary tale about letting quality fall by the wayside in favor of dicking around with an Akai Headrush, this would be it. Might I give you a slightly oblique example? Why, thank you!
Imagine a Swamp Thing imposter lurching through the Okefenokee, much like the man who dressed up as Superman a few years ago, fresh out of an institution, and wandered around some downtown area with a pistol. This Halaka album, several willful listens through, feels like nothing other than a guy who thinks he’s Swamp Thing, covered in mud and weeds, blurry-eyed, mumbling incoherently to itself. It’s a shambling mess.
The CD case indicates that there are seven tracks on this album, but don’t let that fool you. The individual track names are nothing more than signposts in an impenetrable fog – suggestions, if you will. All 60 minutes feature the same combination of elements in what seems like the same key, over and over. One of these elements is a bunch of noise, which we will discuss later. There is also, usually, an acoustic guitar line (all of which are remarkably similar both to each other, and to “Come As You Are”). The last is the vocals, and while we’re at it, we should really just go back and put those finger-quotes around “vocals,” because to be frank, whoever got passed the mic in the all-night bongathon that this album came out of needs to be sat down, preferably by a trusted friend or family member, and told frankly that they cannot carry a tune. Some people can get away with a little atonality, like our friend Conor “Yowlyface” Oberst, but at least he’s cranking his verisimilitude to 11. This just sounds bad.
Don’t get me wrong, now – I’m not patently anti-drone or anything, and if you’re turning up your nose in disgust at my appraisal of this album because I’m coming across as a staunch humper of the leg of Pop Music, then you’ve got your wires crossed, pal. Take a band like Storm and Stress, right – they’ve got one up on Halaka by not even having a beat. The difference is that of an abstract painting about which your layperson might complain, “This looks like it was painted by a 6-year-old,” and an actual painting by a 6-year-old. Technique, intent, mastery of ones’ tools – these are the differentiating factors, and their absence from A Translucent Gold Statue, a Hole is sorely felt. I rest my case.