AXESS: Zen (2020)
Updated: Nov 19
“Without false notes, this 8th solo album from Axess follows the paths of Seashore with a mix of EDM and Berlin School”
1 Prelude 6:27
2 Elastique 12:22
3 Resonance Part 1 & 2 11:43
4 Zen 10:30
5 Shut your Eyes 5:42
6 Salvation 7:04
7 Meditation 9:45
8 I keep Walking 7:06
(CD/DDL 70:42) (V.F.)
(EDM & Berlin School)
Seashore marked a new stage for Axel Stupplich by directing his music towards chill ambiences, what is called in the language of contemporary EM ambient. A melodious ambience that makes us dance softly, our heads in the clouds. ZEN follows in the footsteps of this album, but with a clear trend for Berlin School. A back to basics, like in the First Light to Time Traveler years, for this friendly German musician who also likes to share his esoteric vibrations with Pyramid Peak.
This new EDM adventure from Axess begins in the dreamlike sweets of the Cosmos. Prelude tinkles its musical prisms and offers an introduction which respects the genre with synth waves, all of lyrical silk conceived, where these first chords sparkle as lost as these stars far from our eyes but so close to our imagination. This sweet introduction is welded in a cluster of sound waves which plays tricks by imagining the chirping of sparrows which become sonorous graffiti which have crossed all the decades of EM. Everything is calm in the kingdom of Prelude, whose mute pulses of bass tones articulate slow waltz movements imagined in the darkness of the Cosmos where these drops of pearls still flow imitating the eternal electronic chirping from the dreams of Klaus Schulze. Elastique follows with an equally ambient opening, but with percussive elements running like Rattus Norvegicus all around our ears. The rhythm imposes its stature quite early on with good pulsations while the melody breathes through its 3 suspended chords and of which the bluish hues resonate as much as the pulsations. Breaths of vuvuzela pass over our ears as the strobe carcass refurbishes piece by piece, the semi-techno vision prevails with creative dance ornaments in a vision of Intelligent Electronic Music (IDM). The 3 melodic chords resisted this mini dance music storm while the rhythmic core has never stopped storing relevant elements to replenish its base in order to offer a good EDM title. Resonance Part 1 & 2 does not need 30 seconds to impose its presence. If the multiple percussive elements charm our hearing, it is nothing compared to this bass line creeping for a good cosmic groove. A short melody wanders on a lonely piano behind a curtain of sounds quivering of nervousness. These fuzz-wah-wah effects from the Disco years help structure this morphic Techno which plunges into a sleepy phase after 5 minutes. We float with the music and we start moving again to the sounds of wood percussions and this bass with circadian effects in a second phase slower but still propelled by the nervousness of its ornaments directed by a delicious stroboscopic movement.
The title-track is the jewel of ZEN! Three chords bouncing or pulsing in an ambient pool is the recipe for these wonderful phases which intersect across the horizons of ZEN. It's the same principle on Zen which shows patience and slowness before laying down between our ears a beautiful soft EM which accompanies us behind closed eyes by the nobility of floating with these ambient hymns of a dreamlike sweetness. Resonance effects and fluty chants are added as the percussions adjust the beat in a slow morphic mode. The transition of percussion during the ethereal phase to that of lunar rhythm is breathtaking of its conceptual authenticity. And what about these layers of floating voices on a rhythm where we waltz glued and glued between the stars? A superb down-tempo! Point!! We went to the middle of this album to hear the electric piano from Shut your Eyes. Another morphic down-tempo with a sensitivity that eats away at our emotions, the track evolves between the slow tempo of Zen and an EDM rhythm not badly more in shape to dance softly. The percussions and these electronic whips, which punish the ambiences of ZEN, are more present and come out better on this title whose dramatic outbursts stigmatize our memories in a very precise place. We are in the emotional core of the album with Salvation which is another sad melody hummed by these choirs hidden in the interstices of the synths. This second pure gem on ZEN takes advantage of beautiful percussions with the effects of hazy gas to add as much mystery as sorrow in a very beautiful title whose second half is clearly in mode to make the so much emotional people to bawl! Meditation gets rid of its openness of white noises and psybient moods to roar on a tense bass line for electronic rhythm. Only the organic croaks persist and embellish a structure always well served by good ideas at the percussion level, the music remains at a passive level with the stroboscopic structure of the bass line, creating two rhythmic visions well divided by a keyboard with chords always so nebulous. And if we were in the uncertainty regarding the rhythmic direction of Meditation, I Keep Walking is not ambiguous by exploding for pure techno after two minutes of vaporous atmospheres. Axess takes us to the lands of IDM in a neurotic structure that embraces the same mold of Moonbooter's unbridled and jerky rhythms, even including those machine voices with ethereal timbres à la Enigma.
Without false notes, this 8th solo album from Axess follows the roads of Seashore with a mix of EDM and Berlin School à la Software in a more romantic, more ethereal Dance-Music vision. Produced and distributed on the new Axess-Music label, ZEN is offered both in manufactured CD and in downloadable format, the same goes for the next Pyramid Peak. The 8 tracks form a mosaic of 70 continuous minutes with a more ambient phase which remains as lively as ever thanks to an excellent vision in terms of percussions and percussive elements which range from Jean-Michel Jarre to Stefan Erbe, without forgetting these melodic and rhythmic sequences à la Pyramid Peak. In short, this is good Axess as we like it ...as we want it!
Sylvain Lupari (November 18th, 2020) ***¾**
Available at Axess-Music Bandcamp