Axxonn ‘Lets Get It Straight’ CD 2011

Axxonn 'Lets Get It Straight' CD 2011Axxonn is Brisbane-based sound artist Tom Hall, and not to be confused with the Axons, a race of tentacle-bedecked alien beasties disguised as golden-skinned humanoids who menaced Doctor Who during the Jon Pertwee years. An easy mistake to make, but I’m glad we nipped that in the bud. Phew.

Hall, as Axxonn, purveys quite a mixed-bag of sounds, but does a very nice line in squelchy, glitchy electronica and icy, droning sound-vistas, at times approaching a sound akin to a pre-Americana Dylan Carlson playing into a seriously overtaxed practice amp whilst Belbury Poly and Coil jam out in the background.

Yes, that’s a GOOD thing.

Opening with the lush Vangelis-esque synth-scape of ‘Slave Driver’ Axxonn segue nicely into ‘Cod & Chips’, which starts off as being a similarly-hued number before developing a subtly thumping rhythm and a ‘follow-the-bouncing-ball’ style xylophone motif. Bizarre. From here we move through ‘Golfini’, a hypnotically strummed acoustic guitar piece suddenly engulfed by MBV-style distorto-fuzz guitars with a strange, looping li’l guitar/synth squiggle sitting atop like a suspicious-looking cherry, and into the moody semi-dubstep shuffle of ‘Choc Milk Addiction’, a number that puts me in mind of portions of Ulver’s version of Blake’s meisterwerk ‘The Marriage Of Heaven & Hell’. Which is, again, a very good thing indeed.

Those MBV fuzztones rear their soupy head again during ‘Frosties 2L’, a strange wee track that sounds like Hendrix warming up to play ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ in an igloo made of felt and lamb-fat, ala Joseph Beuys. From there, the cut-up, glitchy delayed piano and drum-machine of ’10 Pound Trouble’ lead us merrily up the garden path toward the distant somnambulant organ and icily spiky minimalist drum pattern of ‘The Second Death’, which mutates for its second-half into a punchy hail of distorted guitar stabs and a more martial rhythm.

See what I mean by ‘mixed-bag’?

‘Perfect For Acid’ is the sound of an acid-fried 808 and a 606 jamming out in the next field over, and ‘Let’s Get It Straight’ is a buzzily distorted synth-pop number that comes off like a stripped-down instrumental version of early Skinny Puppy classic ‘Smothered Hope’. I love it. The Belbury Poly-vibe comes out most obviously in ‘Nai’, a driftingly hauntological li’l throwback to early eighties electronica, only to be suddenly yanked through the black hole of sound that is ‘From Blacks Void’. Hoving into earshot from squeaking, squealing electronic feedback, a massed array of fuzztone guitars appear on the event horizon, massing and gaining in density before being joined by those eighties radiophonic synth-tones and becoming a gigantic ball of whirling distortion, hurling itself into the singularity, dragging a church organ along in its wake and spitting fuzz aaalll the way down to the bottom of the gravity well. KABOOM.

From there, only the twitching remains of sound are left, jerking into life and assaulting our ears as ‘Pardoe’ – a juddering rewired remnant of what came just before, all stuttering drum-machine, twisted church organ and the maxed-out shell of a super-dense fuzz guitar, slowly winding down into kaleidoscopic spectral form in front of our very eyes and ears.

Axxonn totally fried my eyes and ears for the duration of ‘Let’s Get It Straight’, switching from one track to another, but there is still a uniformity there, a common feel and tone that ties the whole together beautifully and keeps the attention focussed.

Brave work my antipodean friend, brave work.

Label: Arlen Records

Scribed by: Paul Robertson