Artwork by Ben Turner
I’m not supposed to talk about it.
I’m not even supposed to think about it, let alone discuss what I found on that tape. Supposedly if you even whisper the name bad things happen; people change before your eyes, darkness rises, you begin to lose those bits of yourself that tie you to this world. “Harglow”. There, I said it. What are they going to do, anyways? If you don’t believe in that nonsense then nothing bad can happen, right? I mean, sure, there was evidence of occult rituals in the estate. In the basement(it was so, so cold…and went on forever) there were strange markings and what looked like blood stains on the floor. Chains and shackles bolted to the walls. Those rich, eccentric types could be a little weird in their proclivities, but this was on a whole other level. Bone fragments found in the furnace were inconclusive as to whether they were human, but I have my suspicions…
Yes, that word again. It was written on a box that contained two reels of 1/4 inch tape. Why did I listen to it? Nothing has been the same since. Drones and strange pulsations, dread oozing from the speakers of that old Sony tape player. Ritualistic and alluring, like demonic sirens beckoning at the edge of Hell. The room got so cold as that damn tape played on. I wanted to shut it off. I wanted to burn it and scrub my brain clean. Go back, before I was assigned that eccentric’s estate sale. Let that phone call go to voicemail and burn the phone. Toss it into the lake and move away. Leave the real estate business behind. Leave it all behind.
There it is again. It hangs in the air like a smiling, stinking specter. I keep hearing the phrases. “Red Leather”, “Death Rattle”, and “Sister Doom Face”. These phrases were repeated in a monotone voice over and over, like incantations. The sounds were sickening, like a broken music box repeating the same line. It works its way into your brain like a worm, devouring grey matter and leaving your skull empty and cobweb-ridden.
I should never have played that tape.
Harglow may very well be an eccentric millionaire’s demonic incantations, but I do know for sure that Harglow is also an electronic duo originally from OKC, but now is split between Texas and Oklahoma. Colin Nance and Eric Gorman share a love of all things dark; from horror cinema to the soundtracks found in horror cinema. Their music exists among dark electronic with a bit of an edge that veers into industrial territory. There’s a dreamy quality to their work, giving you a sense you’re in some psychedelic-infused fever dream.
Harglow was introduced to the world on Burning Witches Records’ Communion compilation for this year’s RSD. “Candle Wax” was a hypnotic sampler for what was to come. We now are ready for the main course. Harglow’s self-titled debut pulsates like a black heart. It gulps oxygen from the room leaving you lightheaded and hallucinating. Harglow is part Goth techno and part industrial grooves mixed with a healthy dose of razor-sharp synths, occult leanings, and absinthe-laced hallucination. It’s a musical night terror in black leather and a bloody lip, waiting for you to ask for more.
Right off the bat “Red Leather” kicks you where it counts. You can imagine dark corridors, mildew hitting your nostrils, and the strange feeling that time has stopped in the space you’re occupying. The guys have transcended the imagined soundtracks and made up horror scores. This song puts me back in 1988 and the dark corners of the Wax Trax roster. I imagine this is the sound Reznor heard in his head when he decided NIN was the next step from his Flock of Seagulls phase. Cruel and seductive. “Death Rattle” is leather club hard techno. A little pain, a little pleasure, and a lot of heavy groove. “Bloody Fuck” careens along on that continued hard edge. It’s as if the track bleeds from some gaping wound on “Death Rattle”. Part I Care Because You Do and part Pretty Hate Machine, with some Midwestern freakiness for good measure.
Elsewhere, “Architecture For The Night” is sleek and subtle. It keeps an undercurrent of groove moving along as a wheeze of synth stays just under surface. Like an exorcism with a clear head wouldn’t be bad enough, “Exorcisms On Acid” would surely push the experience well over the top. The dissonance here feels like one losing their mind. Imagine “Revolution No. 9” on LSD as you walked trapped in a sadistic fun house. That leads right into the excellent “Neon Switchblades”. It’s a neo-futuristic track that is part Cliff Martinez and part Trent Reznor. It’s an absolutely stunning track, and feels like the proto-Harglow track. “Sister Doom Face” closes out our journey through the dark psyche of Harglow. It hisses and wheezes like a beast waking. Doom-laden and perfect in every way.
Maybe there is a couple 1/4 inch reel tapes that have the name “Harglow” attached to them. I hope there is. But until they end up on my doorstep in a bloody puddle, I’m thrilled to have Harglow, the debut from the band with the same name. Colin Nance and Eric Gorman have taken the electronic/industrial music formula and have turned a subtle darkness onto it. The result is something that sounds sort of dangerous, yet alluring. Like a psychedelic-painted guillotine. You really shouldn’t put your head in it, but dammit it looks so cool. What’s the worst that could happen?
Hit play and find out.
8.4 out of 10