Friday, 31 August 2018
Axebreaker – Burning False Flags. Cassette/mp3 – Primal Architecture Records – 2017.
Axebreaker – The Whited Sepulcher – Anathemata Editions -2018.
Primal Architecture -
Terrence Hannum Website -
Axebreaker is a recently emerged US Power Electronics project by Terrence Hannum, who is also a member of bands Locrian and The Holy Circle amongst other projects, he also makes his own tape based visual art. Axebreaker is themed as an Anti-fascist Power Electronics project in retaliation to Trump’s new America and the rise of the Far-Right that came with it.
Burning False Flags begins with White Rose - a low level digital, pulsating noise delivery with shouted vocals that seem way in the distance rather than at the forefront of the recording. Synth drones take the lead as an abstracted, vocal hisses throughout. Dark ambient qualities seem to over-ride the power electronics, flirtations with walls seem to emerge at various points too.
Changeling seems to begin as atmospheric electronica, the vocal again is distanced as static hiss forms a fog over the track. Very American digital pulsations drown the tracks illusions of beauty. Enemies List; forms more ambience whilst channelling the band Suicide. In certain tracks Trumps speeches are warped beyond belief to emphasize an ugliness of what’s been said. The work ends with a cover of a Crisis track ‘Hollocaust’, is this a tease on Death in June’s change after Crisis? Either way this is Power Electronics riddled with glimpses of melody and lushness.
This is a very atmospheric recording, I think it gets too distant and ambient in parts, sometimes it is as if it is kicking off in the background. My belief is that to make this an effective Anti-Fascist Power Electronics project, it needs to be way more direct, ugly and sharp.it’s positives are that it does have a slightly ethereal element that is refreshing and an 80s synth playfulness which is quite original and fresh within the genre. There is a slight otherness – a rich atmosphere in place of harshness. I confess to still being surprised by this release and got something different to what I was expecting.
A year later enter 2018s The Whited Sepulcher which is a 4-track release. It still has the gorgeous ambience of the prior recording. It also seems to have a better placing of foreground and background elements, structural movement and pitch: it does have more impact.
The vocal is shriller, sharper and more effective than before; it punctuates well through the ambient sphere. Synths are deeper and resonate as more vocal samples continue to be warped. There are still Dark Ambient elements present which deliver layered sonic landscapes for which the vocals can travel, it’s as if the Far - Right is mocked through abstraction. A stronger use of harsh electronics, samples and pulsations build the Lost Cause as a track; a mini riot of sound ensures.
This is a more effective release, the project’s qualities have been emphasised, and they are homed in a bit more. There is harshness coupled with lush texture and ambience. There is a long way to go to a full realisation of the project emerges, but Axebreaker’s effectiveness and purpose increases.
Choppy Noodles 2018.