Seattle group NEWAXEYES created a heady brew on their debut LP. Black Fax draws from genres as diverse as doom metal, power electronics, techno and industrial music to create music that is intended to mirror the synaptic-overload of the information age. They get pretty damn close, too - opener ‘False Flag’ is an intense ride that recalls Nine Inch Nails. Other touchstones include Sunn O))) and Death Grips.
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In a meditation on the palpable experiences of our post-Information age, Newaxeyes have made a record that is violent, sprawling, and lamentable -- but always human, always accessible. Streamlining impossible of genres, from tiny moments of power electronics to metal to industrial, their prettier instincts keep the record within the same dichotomy of clarity and overload as our everyday connections.
The harsher elements of this record exist as mere texture, like scrolled-over wallpaper. A shimmering, black metal guitar tone strikes through “Aleph Null”, but the dinky melody and sleuthing beat give the song more of a late Nine Inch Nails feel than anything else. “Dennis” sees noisy ambient textures and pulsing feedback churn against more pretty chords and a trip-hop lite production. “At Blood’s” contains the record’s harshest content as a wall of distortion clamours through its backlog, but it comes from the gorgeous, disintegrated voice of Hanna Benn, whose choral sustain seems to reverse download into self-destruction.
The best moments are the least recognisable ones -- the abstracted drones, the chiming stranger sounds that exist in “Tiffany”. The record’s narrative, however, compels us to make sense of the senseless, with beatwork and melody providing the linearity we’re accustomed to -- whether it can be trusted or not.
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