Axxonn: Beyond Light
- I've always been quite fond of Axxonn's synthetic noodlings. Whether it's the proggy synthtronica he does under that moniker, the searing ice & fire ambient / noise combo he brings under his own name, Tom Hall, or even hoards of remixes done by the most fashionably odd electro-innovators, it's always dang interesting and often not a whole lot like what anyone else in the world is up to.
I think our small-town boy is still hanging out in downtown LA right now, but he's taken the time to send his latest, Beyond Light, winging back our way. Actually, I think most of what's here was created before Tom decamped for over there. It follows on neatly from his previous record Let's Get It Straight, even titling one of the tracks Sequel To Acid after a single from back then, Perfect For Acid; just a gentle nudge indicating, "maybe you want to play this one?"
If that's his choice of a new single it's a cheeky one: kicking in like a B-52 mid bombing-run with thunderously distorted synths bringing a noise that can only be described as maximalist. For all that it's still quite tuneful, dense layers of harmony crushing down on your ears like - I dunno - an elephant in a tutu?
Not all the tunes on Beyond Light are so ridiculously full-on. Opener Sky's One Kite has an almost folk-tronic charm, although it builds to some pretty blistering peaks. For The Housewives Of Woodland Hills starts on a hardcore techno beat but sinks into swells and surges of proggy synth before going kind of improv crazy and shattering like a pane of synthetic glass. Oceans Clear is thrumming synthgaze with a dreamy vocal from JZ. I'm just gonna go ahead and assume that despite our boy assuredly being on his way to fame and fortune in America, that isn't Jay-Z. Holda is another slice of the same, although without a vocal it has a meaty, droning quality, but one which works. Reminds me a bit of Blanck Mass and that is never a bad thing. Tammy Brennan's lilting vocal on the hypnotic Outback Wonderland would have been better if it had been in tune. What is it with electronic vocalists and tuning lately? Death Meditation lays down a simple, kinda housey beat against a fuzzy background, like getting down with a radio-telescope and Beyond Light finishes with darkwave / ambient hybrid of the leadingly titled Dark Cut, which, Axxonn being Axxonn again builds to some crushingly fuzzy peaks along the way.
Beyond Light is exactly what I would expect from Axxonn and that is hardly a bad thing, it contains all his core interests whilst still bringing a refreshing and highly listenable diversity of sound. I don't know exactly how he's doing in the big smoke, but he'll always find a welcome home in my ears.
- Chris Cobcroft.