Producer and DJ AxH is as accomplished as he is talented. He's a diplomat- as the first US producer to be signed to Tempa Records, and a decorated road-dog with multiple tours under his belt. His discography boasts releases on an eclectic spread of labels, from the aforementioned Tempa, to BK-based Tuba, to fellow Sub.Mission Agency artist EshOne's innovative Elk Beats imprint.
Today, the producer has another exceptional release under his belt, the Devil Shogun EP, out now via Wheel & Deal. As the ominous cover art suggest, the listener is in for a dark, nefarious auditory exploration. The title track opens with a haunting sample from Shogun Assassin- popularized on GZA's 'Liquid Swords' but perfected here, with sinister atmospherics percolating just beneath the surface. Muted strings arise from the depths to reveal, twisting and shifting to reveal the tune's lead melody- a melody which the echoed vocals describe perfectly: "evil."
The next track, 'Fading Away' features Belgian producer ARtroniks, and the duo continue to bring the darkness in a big way. Big, sweeping basslines are accompanied by skittering, lysergic percussion. Although not often a welcome adjective, the schizophrenic productions on this track bring it to life, adding cerebral elements to a dark-room behemoth. 'Phasma Black' brings energy to the table without sacrificing the gloomy sonic themes of the record. The 2-step energy is augmented by a frenetic bassline and almost tribal drums. The tune is also noteworthy for its melodic B-sections, which almost call to mind the droopy-eyed trip-hop of the early 'oughts.
The final tune 'Boneyard Keeper' opens with an almost cackling synth line which evolves into a delightfully complex amalgam of bass music perfection. Not only is it primed for dancefloors, but it's a great, thought-provoking headphones listen as well, as one will find captivating new elements with each listen.
This release is a must-listen for fans of the genre and casual listeners alike. AxH has a mastery of dark thematics unlike any other. Head on over to Beatport to listen and purchase!