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AXESS - FIRST LIGHT (2009 REISSUE/2002 ALBUM/PYRAMID PEAK)

Product Format: CDR               ** Regular Stock Item **

Price: £12.49 (exc) £14.99 (inc)

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2009 re-issue of 2002 debut album with 7 lengthy, occasionally dark tracks featuring strong melodic leads layered over “Berlin School” style sequencing.

Back in 2008, we were totally blown away by former PYRAMID PEAK member Axel Stupplich’s ‘Voices At Dawn’ album issued under the name AXESS. Playing analogue, digital & native synthesizers, AXESS delivered over 67 minutes of powerful, melodic, rhythmic electronic music on an album that was a total thriller from start to finish, alive with sounds that echoed classic JEAN-MICHEL JARRE and TANGERINE DREAM!
When ‘Fusion’, the stunning follow-up to ‘Voices’ came along in 2010, we just had to delve further into the AXESS and related back-catalogue, and on the back of these exciting two releases we then went on to discover this and other AXESS related titles.
In 2004 and 2010 Axel teamed up with multi-talented German musician Max Schiefele who was working under the name MAXXESS and playing electric & acoustic guitars and synthesizers, and together the pair produced two exciting albums under the AXESS-MAXXESS banner.
For AXESS-MAXXESS (and MAXXESS solo albums) you have to think instrumental PINK FLOYD / PORCUPINE TREE meets TANGERINE DREAM - A progressive-electronic crossover, where synthesizers and electric guitars meet in an exciting meld of instrumental fusion that delivers similarly high-energy, melodic music to that on the AXESS albums, but with an added progressive edge brought by the inclusion of the equally melodic, but heavier feel of the MAXXESS guitar sound.

‘Awakening’ floats in sounding very like an “EM” version of PINK FLOYD’s ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ but after a couple on minutes the sequencers and rhythms kick in and we are very much in Schulze-like mode for a while with distant spacey choral voices providing added atmosphere. Melodic, high-register synth melodies fly overhead and build in intensity as the track moves forward and there are plenty chord and tempo changes to keep you interested all the way. ‘Distant Sun’ is mellower and features waves of deep, dark male voice Mellotron choir effects, but a slowly pulsating rhythm provides a driving force of sorts with synth melodies circling round the approaching mass.
Straight away ‘Echoes Of Eternity’ steps the pace up a few gears with a rapid sequencer rhythm, but there are more ethereal choral effects and string synths there to keep the flow smooth and controlled. A beautiful high-register synth then wails out a haunting melody, before another chord change breaks the pattern and a new, more panoramic melody takes over just before the rhythms cease. After a short period, a new, more drum-oriented rhythm emerges with another gorgeous high-register synth theme evolving on top on a bed of sweeping string synths, bringing the track to a grandiose conclusion. ‘First Light’ emerges with just a string synth and circular rippling sequences that is eventually surrounded by all manner of swishing effects and electronic rhythm patterns and some ghostly wailing male choral voices. The track is a slow builder with layers of sound being added all the time, and at four minutes in the inevitable powerful melody line comes out of the thick background mist, bringing with it chord changes and even more heavenly layers of sound. This continues on and off to the end of the track as the synth improvises over the main theme, tangling itself around the core wall of, at times, eerie strangulated voice sounds.
‘Shadows Of Dawn’ starts out with orchestrated synth chords until a bass-synth rhythm gradually gets started and joins the building picture. It’s a slow process that eventually develops into a more flowing sequencer lead track that steps up in pace at several points in the building process towards the end of the track. Once the pace is finally settled on the final four minutes, it gets into a real flowing groove where the high flying synth melodies dance around the soundstage in fast paced, almost techno time.
‘Sermon’ is much less frantic, and opens with glorious crystalline synth melodies tinkling over deep Jarre-like synth textures until a big, deep sequencer beat takes over to lead the track into a different direction, but with a flowing undercurrent of string and space-synth sounds. Eventually a big synth theme bursts through and sings to the heavens, and this comes and goes for the final few minutes before the track again closes to the gentle crystalline synth sounds. ‘Infinity’ is the album’s longest track, and it starts with just echoed atmospheric chimes and thick layers of dark, alien-like choral textures, building a formidable sounding atmosphere. By the time the five-minute mark arrives we are in for a fast-paced sequencer / electronic drum driven passage where the choral textures form a panoramic wall of sound behind the fast beating rhythms. The beat and synth bass takes on a slightly different pattern for the final few minutes – still fast and furious and initially without the Mellotron voices in the background but they gradually re-emerge and build in strength until the tracks fades off over the horizon.

For a debut album, this was a pretty good start. Sure, all the “Berlin School” influences are there, but this guy knows how to incorporate strong melodies into the soundscapes he produces, and does it such skill that your interest is held throughout.


AXESS: FIRST LIGHT Track List:

01. Awakening (10:13)
02. Distant Sun (8:49)
03. Echoes Of Eternity (11:35)
04. First Light (12:33)
05. Shadows Of Dawn (10:10)
06. Sermon (7:20)
07. Infinity (15:25)

TPT – 76:14