AXESS: Singularity (2022)
“Such as in Zen, Axess proposes a more contemporary EM, as well in the sounds, the rhythms and visions”
1 Polar Night 8:21
2 Time Lapse 6:10
3 Horizon 7:26
4 Heliosphere + Across Space & Time 18:14
5 Afterglow 9:51
6 Childhood Memories 5:16
7 Nautilus 6:52
8 Singularity 11:34
(DDL 73:44) (V.F.)
(Chill and ambient beats)
It is always with renewed pleasure when I discover a new Axess album. With or without Pyramid Peak, Axel Stupplich proposes an electronic music (EM) of the narrative type with verses, choruses and atmospheric intermissions finely attached to beautiful melodious visions. And SINGULARITY is no exception with its 8 tracks that flirt with the 74-minute mark. Available only in downloadable format, this 9th solo album follows in the footsteps of his album Zen by proposing a captivating and melodious ME with rhythms as soft as a breeze coming from valleys where turbulence and calmness cohabit in the same axis. The production is very good with a clear sound and a good detail in the work of the percussions that enhances the quality of the rhythms that swing between good Chill and downtempo with a little essence of New Berlin School in its slow ascending movements.
The tone of the arpeggios is not banal at all in this new opus of the German musician. It charms us from the crystalline opening of Polar Night with a chime that makes zigzagging this delightful approach where rhythm and melody live from the same source. Blown shadows cast an aura of mystery and drama to the track which slowly develops by proposing nothing less than 3 rhythmic links which compete in parallel, two of them on sequencer and one on effects and percussions with gas-filled slaps. The structure is thus at two speeds with a circular downtempo and the other one ascensional to the atmospheric Berlin School which exchange the dominant roles. Moon-like keyboard chords sing like stars lost in our thoughts, while the percussive elements add an organic texture with the impression of hearing the steps of ants, amplified of course, dragging a quarter sandwich. This depicts very well the ambiences and structures that make up SINGULARITY. Time Lapse features a gyrating melody that at first spins as softly as dreamily before the percussions tie it into a solid Chill Out. Its rhythm is as heavy as slow with parallel rhythmic elements that flicker like fireflies in circular pockets of wind. Built on two speeds, the beat plays with our emotions on a good amount of chill with an intensity closely followed by a melodic vision builder of earworm. The kind of thing that builds to an emotional crescendo that you've heard somewhere before and could even grace the romantic landscape in a romance movie! Between its electronic rhythm structure built to make our neurons dance, and its melody that seeks rather to make them daydream, Horizon unfolds in opening a structure of melodious arpeggios that zigzags under a wave of seraphic voices. The rhythm settles down a little before the first minute with a bass pulses line which clash under the multiple cracklings of percussive effects which are similar to a horde of random steps. The title sails thus, under very beautiful breezes of a seraphic synth, between this rhythm and more atmospheric phases while preserving this melodious cachet set on beautiful arpeggios rather rhythmic.
A very long track that exceeds 18 minutes, Heliosphere + Across Space & Time moves in a sibylline vision where buzzing winds become layers of celestial voices, and vice versa. This more atmospheric than rhythmic track begins with a synth wave that weeps like a mourning Onde Martenot. Keyboard riffs twirl around this vampiric air until shimmering arpeggios start tinkling curtly in a surreal dance where layers of voices have already transformed this wave. Trapped in these humming winds, the movement of the arpeggios is tied to percussions which structure the first part of this long title in an electronic rock pounded by a sequencer as incisive as the abrupt blows of the electronic drum. Lively and catchy, Heliosphere approaches its atmospheric and seraphic phase some 15 seconds before the 6th minute, giving itself a momentum to become even more incisive. Across Space & Time offers a longer atmospheric phase that starts around the 9th minute and gradually develops intensely with a structure of stagnant but pleasing percussive elements that has a beautiful organic texture. The music develops into an atmospherical vision, increasing its emotional intensity as the minutes flee the dial, giving an ambient finale that breathes on bass pulsations and the resonant echo of those percussions that never managed to ignite a lively rhythm. A chill-inducing track, Afterglow features a dreamy Vangelis-like opening who makes wandering his chords on an Antarctica ice floe. The keyboard is morose with a melancholy texture that the caresses of the violins always amplify a little more. These chords twirl and draw lines of ambient melodies that roam under these orchestral bites until they wander alone in the vast echo of silence. The 4th minute brings these percussions which clap like wooden clogs on hard stone, structuring a very good downtempo which waltzes under nice orchestrations where now sing these frosted chords of the opening. Yes, a track that gives you chills! Childhood Memories is also beautiful, melodious and more animated, while Nautilus survives very well to its oceanic opening to lead us in a rhythmic evolution built on slamming percussions, good surges of a solid bass line, sequenced arpeggios as melodious as rhythmic and good orchestrations making shimmer the luminous side of the ocean's reflections. The orchestrations, the layers and the murmurs of voices add ingredients carrying shivers if one has the blues. A track of a great atmospheric violence, the title-track swirls on its dark and tenebrous axis from which escapes another filament of evasive keyboard melody. These 5 luminous chords will remain engraved in the ear for the duration of the track. The layers of synth and voice are heavy and wrap the nervous impulses of a sequencer that stagnates on the spot. Trapped in this static swirl of knife-edge intensity, it emerges to make fluttering a line of arpeggios that flicker like hummingbirds in front of a food display. Singularity remains static and very intense, completing a very beautiful album of Axess who proposes here a more contemporary EM, as well in the sounds as in the rhythms and visions.
Sylvain Lupari (June 13th, 2022) *****
Available at Axess Bandcamp