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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Haack, Bruce - The Electric Lucifer

Name: Bruce Haack
Album: The Electric Lucifer
Year: 1970
Style: Electronic Psychedelic
Similar Bands: Doors, Ghostwriters, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Ben, Ween, Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo
"One-Word" Review: Psychedelic-Techno-Sermon
Based Out Of: Alberta, Canada
Label: Columbia
The Electric Lucifer - Cover & Sheet
The Electric Lucifer - Back & Lyrics
The Electric Lucifer - Record

The Electric Lucifer (1970)
  1. Electric To Me Turn 1:50
  2. The World (Narration) 0:30
  3. Cherubic Hymn 2:20
  4. Program Me 4:39
  5. War 3:45
  6. National Anthem to the Moon 2:38
  7. Chant of the Unborn 1:22/
  8. Incantation 3:15
  9. Angel Child 1:01
  10. Word Game 3:48
  11. Song of the Death Machine 3:00
  12. Super Nova 5:22
  13. Requiem 3:21
Album Rating (1-10): 7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Bruce Haack - Creation, Synth, Narration, Vox, Bass Moog, (Miss Nelson & Bruce)
Gary Dersarkissian - Vox
Farad - Synth, Vox
Peter Granet - Engineer
Chris Kachulis - Vox, Inner Drawing
Andrew Kazdin - Programming
Arthur Kendy - Engineering, Stereo Effects
Ray Moore - Engineering
Leroy Parkins - Producing
Jon St. John - Vox
Tony Taylor - Vox
William H. Englander - Manager
Isadore Seltzer - Cover Art
Karenlee Grant - Back Cover Design

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of Bruce Haack, but at first sight of this record, I assumed it was a religious album. But I read a little on the back, and it talked about the instrumentation he’s used for the album. I liked the quote on the top “Electricity becomes sound” so I wanted to see what this would be like. I don’t really know what to expect, since I have a predetermined idea that it will be churchy, but it is made with Moog and is more rock oriented. I am expecting lots of odd quirky sounds and some great bombastic pieces, as the fight between heaven and hell is usually quite a stereotypically explosive story.

Album Review: I’ve heard that Bruce Haack is responsible for lots of techno pioneering in the field of electronic music. I’ve also read that he has had alenghty career with commercials and children’s oriented music both before and after this record, so that will be great insight to this music.

“Electric To Me Turn” begins the album with electronic chirping and a carnival organ atmosphere. Vocals are vocoded and sound like many hip hop albums will use today, I’m thinking Chromeo. It’s very good, as it sounds like a combination of carnival pop and garage psych. It reminds me a bit of the Ghostwriters, but that’s probably just because the similar electronics they use
“The World (Narration)” is just buzzing noises played out behind a sullen narrator speaking about the devil and begins the storyline for this genre album
“Cherubic Hymn” has Doors-like smooth, bold and confident harmonic vocals, mixed over swirling electronics and a quiet bouncy bass electro-groove.
“Program Me” is a layered and looping psych with lots of ringing guitars and echoing effects that could become very trippy on the right drugs. Or so I could imagine. This is the first real song in the concept of a child asking to be told, or programmed (since this is very computer/electronic). The song ends with an organ that sounds like it belongs in a church’s ritual procession.
“War” is a marching drum beat, reminding me of Violent Femmes “Machine” It then quickly changes pace and sprints ahead in a fast scampering electronic note section. And it switched off with different paced sections. Some are quite fast, some are plodding, and some are just happy and merry in their happy carnival atmosphere. Then the song takes a dark turn around 2:15, and it feels like a soldier lost on the battle field with no place to go. Just wandering peaks and valleys of sonic topography, fulfilled by the electronic bells.
“National Anthem to the Moon” is a great title, and I want to like the song very much. It is a psych song with vocals, and the music consists of a bubbling vocoded repetition of the lead psych vocals, along with a constant ringing that just barely fills in the background. This really reminds me of the simple, bare bones style of the artist Ben (whom is from Jersey, and I only discovered because Dean Ween has worked with him).
“Chant of the Unborn” is an electronic woodwind song, mixed with jangly metallic spring effects, for a sort of southern rock stomp of a song. It is short, but it is a pleasant bit of controlled ritual mayhem.

“Incantation” is a dark psych campfire cult chant. Not only are the usual electronic bouncing effects mixed down low in the back, but a mouth harp takes center stage and echoes the vocal melodies as they are sung and after. The musical breaks consist of a pleasant royal sounding electronic horn section. This has a sort of Native American ritual dance feel to it.
“Angel Child” is a short, lovely sung lounge piece mixed with renaissance ridiculousness of lyrical themes. Two voices over lap singing in the round, and it sounds like something comically over exaggerated for the theater.
“Word Game” gets us back to the bubbling and jazzy electronic noises that were prevalent on the first side. The vocals are computer vocoded phrases, and are not sung at all. The fantastic moog bass effect bounces around dancing the song along where you barely notice the dull sounding vocals uttering words of some supposed importance.
“Song of the Death Machine” starts with a futuristic breaking crystal sound, and then there is a chorus of vocals singing along to a basic melody similar to “Oh My Darling Clementine.” Of course the song is warped with twinkling electronic effects and dizzying swooping spring sounds. Later in the song, the vocals get distorted with static and fuzz, like the station is being tuned out of reception.
“Super Nova” begins with winds whistling over the sound-scape, like the effects science shows would give to imagery of solar flares. Buzzing and random electronic effects swirl around fading in and out in loudness like on a wobbly spiral. Vocals whisper (quite a loud whisper, actually) over the music that pips and waves in the background. The music in the background is a little minstrel-like, just played through a moog. But the swirling hum (near middle eastern sounding) is the main effect in the song, and really focused any attention from any other part of the song. The end of the song creates a musical strobe light effect where the static sounds quickly pulse in and out as they fade.
“Requiem” aptly ends the album with a groovy psychedelic freak out. It is like the end credits dance-a-thon as the entire cast comes out on stage to bow for the audience. Swirling effects compliment and create the visual interpretation of long hair twisting and waving around with beads, tassels and tinted glasses. And the song ends with a moog version of the Christmas carol NOEL.

Stand Out Track: Electric To Me Turn


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