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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

AXESS: First Light (2001)

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

From an analog style to that of the digital years, the music rolls in rhythmic crossroads that flirt with all styles

1 Awakening 10:13

2 Distant Sun 8:49

3 Echoes Of Eternity 11:35

4 First Light 12:33

5 Shadows Of Dawn 10:10

6 The Sermon 7:20

7 Infinity 15:25

(CD-R/DDL 76:05) (V.F.)

(Berlin School, EDM, Techno)

Axess is Axel Stupplich, one of the three musicians-synthesists of the progressive EM group Pyramid Peak. FIRST LIGHT is a first solo album which sticks very closely to the Peak tones. And we won't complain. It's rhythmic, well sequenced with good little jewels of tenderness or hammering sequences. An opus that needs to be listened to carefully in order to not miss any of the subtle progressions that make of it a very convincing first album.

Mellotron strata, à la Pink Floyd's Shine on you Crazy Diamonds, float in a vaporous ambience. Awakening's nebulous introduction is short lived as a heavy sequencer takes over the beat with a keen, bass structure reminiscent of Tangerine Dream's Phaedra period. Percussions guide the rhythm which a second line of sequences embellishes with a rhythm that seems to mock chthonic vibes. Spinning faster and faster this sequenced rhythm is solidified by a drum in mode rock, accelerating a rhythm stunned by the speed of the sequencer and by those incredible synth solos of a piercing hue unique to the repertoire of Pyramid Peak. A pulsation resonates in the magnetic field of Distant Sun, where scattered chords and percussions are grafted to a synth chant which swirls above our ears like an indefatigable lasso. Cackling chords, as in Robert Schroeder's universe, dance in an oscillating phase that is filled of chthonic voices and streaks of garish colors. This circular movement increases the pace on a rhythmic structure whose creativity constantly amazes, making of Distant Sun a real good Berlin School, still like the 70's Tangerine Dream style. Echoes of Eternity is quite a title! On a hyperactive and very spasmodic sequencer, the rhythm rolls at high speed with keyboard riffs which fall by attracting this mist filled with dubious voices. Distorted effects waltz into nothingness. The percussions which are added give weight to this lively structure which leaves a synth free to launch its long and slow chloroform solos. It's a real rhythmic whirlwind which slows down its pace somewhat around 4 minutes, making even more jerky like a big puppet this framework which turns as fast as the shadow of the sequencer to crash 2 minutes further into the abyss of the cosmos and its atmospheric passages waltzing with our desire for rhythms. In slow motion, the synth makes sleepy solos vibrate. Two minutes pass and a pulsating line stumbles its shadow in order to create more sequences in this rhythm deliciously fed by slamming percussions, like clapping of hands. This rhythm harmoniously cut off by a few jumping keys is just ideal for receiving again those astonishing solos that never cease to charm in the universes of Axess.

The chords of the title-track form a looped sequence dancing on layers of rigged Mellotron violins. Vocal effects à la Edgar Froese nourish this openness which pours into a good electronic rock pushed by hungry pulsations and adorned with filmic orchestral effects. On vibrating pulsations, the sequence becomes more limpid and undulates on these virtual bows which ring these charge of violins. A moment of anguish and agonizing are sawing the title with elements of ambiences from outer world, allowing First Light to leave with solos which quietly eat the ear. Shadows of Dawn begins with a slow pace. Dragged by organic sound effects and lentos staccatos, it gets lively quietly with a mesh of sequences and percussion effects, while the synth whistles bits of melodies. A good bass line puts the music in order by agitating nervous fluttering chords and a heavy pulsation which deviates on a techno dance beat with clicking of percussions and synths with melodious solos. The intro of The Sermon is superb and reminds me of the melody of Vangelis on Albedo 0.39; Alpha. A superb electronic ballad! Tibetan gongs echoing on oblong layers of cloistered monks' voices open Infinity. We expect a title with a spiritual and pious ambience, but it's quite the opposite! In a rhythm swirling with fury, Infinity takes the bend of a frenzied dance-floor anthem, into an aggressive Goa genre that's ideal for a Zombie-Rave.

I was frankly amazed by this FIRST LIGHT! With the exception of Infinity, which is really not my style of music, this album has all the right ingredients to appeal to fans of Berlin School-style of EM. From an analog style to that of Software's digital years or even better, PPeak, the music rolls in rhythmic crossroads that flirt with all styles. This lack of homogeneity can be annoying in the first listenings. But in the end, it's a very good CD from Axess that is really worth the detour and the expense.

Sylvain Lupari (April 27th, 2006) *****

Available at SynGate Webshop

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