Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Review: AxxOnn - Should You Fear Hell? EP

Should You Fear Hell?, the debut release from experimental noiseniks AxxOnn, is by no means a groundbreaking release. That having been said, most music typified as experimental these days is done so mainly to make it vividly clear that it is an entity distinct form any form of pop music. Indeed, this EP isn't hellish, nor is it heavenly. Rather it is in limbo, or purgatory if you will.

AxxOnn, as you have no doubt read in Cam's previous post, is a collaboration between electronic artist Tom Hall, and No Anchor/Iron On bassist Ian Rogers. Should You Fear Hell? doesn't stray far from either of their previous work (excluding Iron On); rumbling bass, floating soundscapes, and then a few more bursts of abrasive bass tones. The pair take their name from David Lynch's Inland Empire, and there is unlikely any more fitting reference. AxxOnn's music exudes the same sort of tension and subtle perversity that is found in Lynch's works.

The EP consists of one 24 minute track broken up into three sections. The first of these is entitled 'White Glare', and that pretty aptly describes what the 7 minute plus section consists of. The swirling, interstellar synthesizers instill a sense of ethereality, yet at the same time they obscure the slightly menacing growls of bass.

After 7 minutes of drones it comes as a bit of a shock when the synths punch in at a different frequency to initiate the second part of the EP, 'Stolen Pens From The Hyatt'. This section works as almost a crossfade between the passive (at least in terms of listener involvement) first section and aggressive final section. Hall's synths (I say synths for want of a better term - I have absolutely no idea what instrumentation he is using here) slowly give way to Rogers' trashed to fuck bass sound; a buildup to the oncoming Götterdämmerung.

The last 11 minutes of the EP consists of the section entitled 'Shit Rainbows (And Unicorns)'. Now I didn't actually look at the titles before listening to the EP, and rainbows (shit or otherwise) and unicorns definitely did not come to mind. Rather this resonator heavy piece evokes some bizarre factory line, where all the robots happen to produce beautifully distorted tones. The droning synths return, carrying the listener downwards like a conveyor belt past the array of unidentifiable beeps and buzzes, until the song gets as sonically low as possible and fades to static.

While Should You Fear Hell? doesn't answer the question it poses (at least not for me), it does mark an excellent debut for this AxxOnn. If they can take us on a trip through the underworld in 24 minutes, one can only imagine where they would journey given a full length release. Brisbane has been putting out a huge amount of great experimental/avant-garde/post-rock music in recent times, and Should You Fear Hell? is a great addition to that canon.

Should You Fear Hell? is available to download for free at www.axxonnband.com.

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