AXESS: Imagination (2021)
Updated: Apr 20
“This is a very good Axess album with Berlin School that deserves our ears”
1 Earth Shine 12:20
2 Steam Part 1 & 2 14:00
3 Canal d'Amour 13:48
4 Imagination 21:42
(DDL 61:50) (V.F.)
There is a new album out from AXESS! I write it with enthusiasm because I have the impression that nobody seems to know about it, as it's very low sales volume shows on his Bandcamp site. And yet, Axess' music is still very beautiful. Barely 5 months after his album Zen, IMAGINATION puts Axel Stupplich back in his Pyramid Peak clothes with 4 long minimalist tracks conceived on the Berlin School model. Slow openings, mostly static, that get fat with multiple layers of synth to go through atmospheric bridges and to finally changed of skin. Typical PPEAK pattern! We are dealing with an excellent composer who knows how to exploit these long minimalist structures and bring in them those elements that make us cling to it, as to the most beautiful of our dreams. The current pandemic is the great responsible of this album and of this tranquility that gives Axess composer wings. Offered only in DDL or CD-R, IMAGINATION is like its title-track, like this long coitus where the orgasm is not the priority.
A wave of sounds and its reflections float in the opening of Earth Shine. The growing circles of this wave encroach on a synth layer drifting from its gyratory axes. Electronic percussions, all sober, discreetly stimulate an electronic rumba in need of vigor. Smothered by a sound mass to which a more musical shadow and an organic texture get grafted, the rhythm surprises by this false energy which catches the dangling of our feet. Sucked in by a layer of voices, Earth Shine reaches its bridge around the 5th minute. The synth makes calls that a line with a stroboscopic temperament ends up joining. This is how the 4 tracks develop in IMAGINATION. The differences come mainly after the bridges of imaginative atmospherical phases. It is thus the rebirth of a structure that has become catchier with this jerky line that a line of gurgling follows with its embryonic mini momentums. The sky of Earth Shine shines then like a good Pyramid Peak track. Here I think of Dark Energy from the album Anatomy, but less energetic because Axel Stupplich is alone. But the idea is there! Decorated with sequenced tinkles and a fine organic texture, this purely electronic rhythm remains catchy. This track is good and great Axess, even with its atmospheric ending. The first part of Steam offers a lively static structure with a jittery static jolt to which Axess glues several synth layers among layers textures of electronic effects. A stationary velocity grips this part before it joins this bridge that will be a road to its new rhythmic skin. A much more uplifting skin for Steam Part 1 & 2 with intergalactic rifle effects hitting the target and especially covered by those slow and smooth synth layers having that power to make peaks of aerial solo.
The second part of IMAGINATION offers 2 tracks that are more in the style of my friend Axel, hypnotic tracks with melodious shadows that are more meditative. Waves of water roll over the opening of Canal d'Amour. Already a wave of sounds lies on the reflections of this water. Whispered voices can be heard, a bit like Canal d'Amour is a scientific experiment to capture the emotions of the listener on Axess' very emotional approach as he lays down a new layer of sounds or musical layers tinted with scarlet pink or just airy mist. A slight tinkling is added to this musical ensemble made to dream the ears sharper than the eyes. This sequenced tinkling becomes the landmark of a slow maelstrom where layers of dreams have clumped together. The arrangements are well done with unseen surges that take the music a little higher on the emotional scale. The streaks become more scarlet. This is the moment chosen for Canal d'Amour to lay down a more committed rhythmic attitude that brings us to these catchy rhythms for hands pawing on our thighs or feet jiggling on a fluid beat. A rhythm where beautiful arpeggios are grafted, stimulating a tasty crescendo amplified by military drum rolls towards a finale that we didn't want to reach. The title-track is the jewel in the crown of this new Axess album. Inspired by a video of Bernd Willinger, Imagination is a beautiful track devoid of percussion and drums. It begins its flight with a first wave of synth and its double that emits a radiation propelled by its silent surges and arpeggios tinkling of melancholy. It becomes a huge dark mass invading our ears that still manage to hear cracks weave translucent waves. There is intensity to the square inch in this opening supported by a bass, more and more present, and by this ambient staccato effect of the layers which advance by jerks. The limpid chords also seem to have this musical power that makes this stagnant layer advance until its bridge, around the 8th minute. A long ambient space makes one hear the stars crying over these clouds of interplanetary radioactivity. One hears a form of acoustic guitar towards drifting its rhythmic chords of this sound mass always guided by these whistling mists. The keyboard releases some arpeggios which tinkle with this rhythm buried under this thick membrane of waves of mist and layers of synthesizer. And the majestic guitar of Max "maxxess" Schiefele grafts heartbreaking solos to this wall of mist that closes as soon as its finale that comes too early.
Let's consider this IMAGINATION as a gift from Axess to his fans! Four long tracks structured in the same pattern can only lead to some lengths that are more noticeable in the openings. The phases after the atmospheric bridges are all succulent, even if the sound load would deserve to be a little better targeted, better detailed. In short, it's like a bootleg of a high-quality recording session that should be remixed into a better sound texture. In the meantime, it's a very good Axess that deserves our ears.
Sylvain Lupari (April 19th, 2021) ***½**
Available at Axess-Music Bandcamp