Bruce Haack

Hush Little Robot

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1998's Hush Little Robot is the most comprehensive and easily available release of Bruce Haack's pioneering electronic music. This German collection culls its track listing from his middle works, emphasizing 1969's rock concept album Electric Lucifer, and the 1974 children's album This Old Man. The result is a mix of robotic nursery rhymes and dark, psychedelic, electronic rock;:the two extremes of Haack's repertoire. Hush Little Robot's lighthearted tracks, like "School for Robots," "This Old Man," and "Thank You" feature banjos and Haack's vocal impersonations of a computer and an old man, along with plenty of random bleeps and bloops from his homemade synths. The best of the children's songs jam their lyrics full of educational information, as well as silly puns and voices: "Bods" features a sparkly keyboard line and lyrics about how body language conveys more than words -- pretty far-out stuff for 1974. The Eastern-tinged "Shine On" is a mantra explaining the properties of light, and "Elizabeth Foster Goose" explores the history of nursery rhymes in Haack's uncommon style. Haack's experimental side also shines on Hush Little Robot. "Rubberbands," from 1968's Way-Out Album for Children, is not only one of the earliest pieces on the album, but also one of its most adventurous, featuring echo-drenched synths interrupted by boinging noises and squeaks that sound like a robot with some loose gears. And Electric Lucifer's spooky, acid-tinged numbers like "Incantation" and "Word Game" feature rolling bass, droning keyboards and electronic percussion for a very different -- but not unrecognizable -- take on psychedelic rock. "Word Game" in particular is a high point in Haack's career, containing both the wide-ranging sonics and cryptic lyrics that are his trademarks. Atop fuzz bass and phased keyboards, vocalist Chris Kachulis intones "Universe: one poem. Love: E-V-O-L. Evolve. Revolve: To love again." Hush Little Robot completes the Haack experience by concluding the album with two college radio interviews he did around the release of Electric Lucifer. Though his music ably speaks for itself, hearing the soft-spoken Haack explain his synthesizers and the peaceful, futuristic themes of his music adds an extra dimension of understanding. A tantalizing glimpse at Haack's prolific body of work, Hush Little Robot is a must for fans of vintage synths and esoteric recordings.

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