AXESS: Aviator (2013)
Updated: Nov 26, 2020
“There are lots of things that hook the hearing in Aviator and which remain engraved in the furrows of our ears after each listening”
1 51°2'N 6°59'O 5:30
2 Departure 7:59
3 Nightflight 14:47
4 Aviator 8:48
5 Crossing the Arctic Circle 10:52
6 Aurora Borealis 12:56
7 Ocean Blue 9:18
8 Farewell 6:30
(CD 74:16) (V.F.)
(New Berlin School)
Witness of his passion for aviation and inventors like Charles Lindbergh and Leonardo Da Vinci, AVIATOR is Axel Stupplich's 6th solo album. The 8th one if we include his 2 albums with Max Schiefele. Playing brilliantly on two careers in parallels, the German synthesist takes away from Pyramid Peak the exploratory structures where the rhythms, the ambiences and the melodies expose their wealth into phases with sensitive sonic mutations. And the nuances between Pyramid Peak and Axess are thin, except that he definitively prefers to explore the diverse rhythmic borders of contemporary EM. From cosmic down-tempo to morphic techno (ambient-house) while passing by the heavy panting of synth-pop, Axel Stupplich exploits a variety of rhythms while flirting with the limits of hypnotic Berlin School where small jumping keys and their contiguous pulsations modify subtly the approaches of Teutonic rhythms. The ambiences are rich and the melodies are delicious. The synths mew and sing such as spectres of vampires sucking the related harmonies which insert in and modify the axes of melodies and their fine variances as much delicate as the changing rhythms. There are lots of things that hook the hearing in AVIATOR and which remain engraved in the furrows of our ears in this album where the references to Jean-Michel Jarre abound, both in the cosmic aromas as in the dancing orchestral arrangements.
I don't know how it is in the airs, but I hope that it doesn't shake things as in 51°2'N 6°59'O. Though, I have no difficulty imagining the soft gleaming reflections of the sun on the metal of the cabin or in the portholes. And this is what I hear in the intro with these delicate arpeggios floating like fluty metallic singings which spin such as firebirds on the surface of an icy water. But when their caresses on our eardrums are abruptly interrupted by big knocks of drums, I say to myself that it has to be that we feel when our bones are brewed in an airplane. Because suddenly, 51°2'N 6°59'O is swallowed by a hard rhythm of lead. A heavy, linear rhythm and strongly hammered of which every knock of percussions gives the impression of lifting prisms of harmonies. The fluty breezes adapt to this rhythm with subtle brisk blows. Made breathless, they run so-so on an inflammatory beat while a new harmonious approach turns up with a series of new chords with more nuanced tones of flutes which melt into harmonious synth solos. The world of Axel Stupplich remains always lively and harmonious. Departure moves on with a thick cloud of rhythmic bones which skip nervously in the bangings of organic percussions. A line of sequences makes its keys waddle. They hiccup at the same speed while the linear pulsations hammer a heavy rhythm. A rhythm which modifies subtly its axis when sometimes it's caressed by the whimperings of a synth flooded by vampiric waves à la Martenot and others time charmed by the pads of waltzing violins. Nightflight follows with a more serene approach. It's a beautiful Berlin School in the tone of today and with the ambiences of yesterday. This is a long minimalist piece of music from which the fine variances change the dreamy ambient approach towards an up-tempo a bit fervent stalk always well nuanced. The first seconds offer a structure of rhythm which quavers coolly and makes articulate its jumping keys in a long spheroidal movement where stroll some very musical twisted solos and where are add heavy resonant chords, at around the 6th minute, which remind the dramatic moments of Jarre. While more ethereal breezes of synth come to caress this structure of morphic rhythm, some beautiful felted percussions redirect it towards a pleasant cosmic down-tempo and finally towards a finely jerked up-tempo.
The title-track is the pearl of the pearls. First of all, it offers to our ears sonic prisms which skip with a harmonious liveliness which is reminiscent of the beautiful ballet of sequences that Klaus Schulze has created in Mirage. Pads of mist come to wrap these sequences and waltz idly on a delicate tempo which wriggles and frees other sequences, more rhythmic, to force the rhythm with incisive knocking of drum. The beat heavy, swirling in this mass of sequences and their opposite directions, Aviator reveals its melody. A musical itch which hums an air full of innocence on a rhythm which spits its leaden and its sequences weaver of furious rhythm through the wild beating of percussions. Changing skin constantly, Aviator passes from a stage to another one, abandoning a phase of rhythm for a heavier, a more alive one but by storing constantly its artifices of melodies up until that the ear finally succumbs to the charms of its fluty singing among which the tenderness and the oniricity throw us on the ground. The pearl of pearls and undoubtedly one of the good piece of EM this year. With Crossing the Arctic Circle, Axess proposes us an ambient rhythm. The heavy circular pulsations chase away the clouds of mists filled of absent voices of its intro in order to draw a long rhythmic snake with ample undulations fed by deep oscillatory pulsations. Even if deeply shaken by these fine sequences, the rhythm of Crossing the Arctic Circle congeals in time. We are in the territories of morphic techno, or ambient house, with an implosive rhythm where the synths are cooing along the seraphic voices while infusing a good dose of lyrical solos. After an intro very ambiospherical flooded of hollow breaths, Aurora Borealis offers a soft oscillatory rhythm with bass resonant sequences which alternate their pendulum's swings with a rhythmic fluidity that the percussions gulp down of their sober strikings. A delicate melody settles on this cosmic down-tempo with the vampiric breezes of synth which sing, as they float, on a rhythmic structure of which the fine variances push a melodious approach to change its solos for harmonious chords which leave an indelible trace in the ear. Ocean Blue drags us in the territories of the astonishing final of JMJarre's Chronology. The percussions, the rhythm; everything is there. Only the melody differs, although very spectral, while the rhythm becomes at times very explosive. As I have already said it, the influences of Jarre abound. I hear the lively oscillatory rhythm of Magnetic Fields which is opening Farewell; a track dedicated to all of those who lost their lives in the Space Shuttle missions and as much inflammatory as 51°2'N 6°59'O but in a more dance style approach, a little like in Metamorphoses from his always source of inspiration.
AVIATOR is a box of surprises where the surprises of Axess amaze us as much that they seduce us. There are a lot of rhythms which bing and bang but which also calm down and make dream. Of everything in a sonic world in perpetual movement! As much catchy and evolutionary that the fine rhythmic variations, the melodies are superb and they graft into our ears such as the airs of enchanting mermaids. Seducing with his approach which includes the rhythms rainbow of Brainwork, inspiring with the fragile movements of sequences inspired by KSchulze and deafening with his inflammatory rhythms which switch off those of his idol, Axel Stupplich navigates with so much ease in the vast territories of EM that we would think that he knows all of its secrets.
Sylvain Lupari (November 14th, 2013) ****½*
Available at Spheric Music & CD Baby