Channeling ‘90s sci-fi beat pioneers like Planetary Assault Systems and the pastel purée of Prefuse 73, Charlotte producer Axnt injects a bit of roughshod industrialized charm into the endless sunset prowl of trendy 2010’s hip-hop and beat music. Perhaps aware of the easily starter-packed stereotypes of trendspotting lo-fi, Anxt usually leans past inert tropes, into dynamic stylistic choices reminiscent of IDM.
Of course, many egghead producers would rather die than be called “IDM,” but for Axnt’s new release, Double Image, on Raund Haus, the comparison is certainly a compliment and not a pejorative. For one, his low-end runs atypically grimy. “Shady Characters” boasts huge sheets of distorted shovel-scrape noise underneath an array of interstellar patches and pitch-fucked vocal samples. The humorously titled “Trendscending” starts out gauzy and inauspicious, possibly the work of any number of vowelless sample-jacking producers. Yet, it creeps along into a jittery, nuanced piece of clubby beatwork, proving that the producer has seasoned tricks up his sleeve.
Manic jungle-revivalist rhythms occasionally spring from Anxt’s toolbox, like on the propulsive “Protopattern.” While novel, the track refuses to smack quite as viciously as one would like, and the majority of Double Image succeeds and suffers in this way. Anxt deserves praise for beautifully setting most of the details of the table. He gets the tablecloth, cutlery, and candles just so while slightly undercooking the main course.
These tracks showcase a fine producer with a firm grip on psychedelic sound design and energizing Jock Jams–world sample choices. He just needs to overclock these ideas to their bombastic conclusion. In a genre where paint-by-numbers beat music can be about as elevating as gas-station CBD oil, this is a promising collection.