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Bruce Haack - The Electric Lucifer  CD (album) cover


Bruce Haack

Progressive Electronic

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siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars Considered one of the most innovative early electronic music pioneers, BRUCE HAACK was born far north in Alberta's Rocky Mountains and nurtured his imaginative interpretations pretty much alone however he regularly participated in Native American powwows where peyote dreams and spiritual free floating surely allowed HAACK to access inner worlds once unnavigable. HAACK spent much of the 1960s creating children's music when he released a series of album's with Miss Nelson but even at those early stages, HAACK was busy turning everyday objects into early electronic instruments and when the moog finally hit the market he wasted no time in fueling his passion with the new sounds.

As the 60s ceded into the 1970s, HAACK put his kiddie music on hold so he could join the burgeoning pack of experimental music that was gripping the world and the first result of this creative splurge was the 1970 release THE ELECTRIC LUCIFER which found HAACK leaving the safe cuddly world of his childhood and plunging right into the existential quandaries of good and evil, heaven and hell and all the dichotomies that result from that dualistic nature. Considered one of those creative underground outsider psycho releases, THE ELECTRIC LUCIFER perhaps has a reputation more sinister than its actual presentation but for someone who appeared regularly on Mr Rogers' Neighborhood, this must've been quite the shock for those accustomed to his more squeaky clean persona.

While highly innovative in the world of electronica due to HAACK's insatiable appetite for self-creating various instruments as well as using everyday objects for sound enhancements, THE ELECTRIC LUCIFER was in reality a pop record musically speaking with ridiculously catchy melodies and instant ear worms that captured the zeitgeist of the psychedelic pop 60s. What makes this album really ahead of its time was the fact that HAACK offered a plethora of sound effects that would become extremely influential for some of the electronic music that emerged decades later. I'm talking about those IDM musical acts like Boards of Canada, Shpongle, Auterche and the gazillion electronic subgenre that have evolved around oscillating electronic riffs and manipulated sound effects. Add to that HAACK pioneered one of the first homemade vocoders which at the time was revolutionary.

It's very true that THE ELECTRIC LUCIFER sounds very dated as it points to that brief moment in time where nascent electronic freedom married the pot filled hippie dreams right before the nihilism and discontent with the world took over the idealism. Lyrically this album was basically a narration of the battle of good and evil and the turning points of the human race deciding which direction the species was collectively heading. Musically this album was something like part Doors, part Walter Carlos' unique moog flavors of the Switched on Bach series and part British pop like The Pretty Things but teased out with strange arrangements and vocal samplers. The mixing job is quite impressive as it sounds like a lot of cutting and editing of the tape was going on at the time. The vocals are all over the place on this one as well.

It's no surprise that this album was virtually ignored at the time since HAACK was hardly a household name like The Beatles and whose audience was basically the wee little tots of the day so this would hardly appeal to his then audience nor his head scratching parents had they happen to buy this thinking it was comparable to his earlier works. Nevertheless the quirkiness and imaginative efforts had not gone unnoticed and THE ELECTRIC LUCIFER has built a dedicated underground cult following which has at least partially redeemed its artistic merit. I can totally understand why many will be split over this album since it is probably way too out there for the casual pop music fans of the day and vice versa too poppy for those seeking the most far removed soundscapes that artists like AMM and The Sperm were releasing. This is more comparable to albums like Aphrodite's Child's "666" or The Beatle's most out there moments. All in all on a personal note, i really like this one since it falls perfectly in that middle ground zone between mainstream and beyond bizarre experimental.

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Posted Monday, June 14, 2021 | Review Permalink

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