Stylish Wallow is the newest release from New York-based electronics explorer Axine M. This excellent batch offers a lot for any fan of experimental, high powered dance music. In a relatively small package (its 5 tracks feel less daunting) there’s a great collection of high energy electronic sounds, swirling production and a taste for unreal, massive synth textures.
The opening tracks “Flummox” and “Vexxed” are somewhat like companion pieces both in their titles and in how they outline some of the major styles explored on this album: “Flummox” a very forward moving dark dance sound, unfolding strangely from one unnatural, sexy melody to another. “Vexxed” staying more focused on a single evolving musical sequence, allowing it to swirl around and warp. The album essentially mixes and matches these two approaches together: how can a single idea change over time and remain compelling? And conversely, how can a few deliberate sequences push aggressively forward?
Any great Techno release has great drums, and I’m so fascinated by the percussion on this record. The first kick we hear is massive…it feels somewhat like being bonked by a colossal plush cushion. Pummeling, but gentle (Wallow plays with this contrast endlessly.) In the same song, we hear a really alien sounding hat, super wide and sizzling, noisy and vicious, artificial and yet still recognizable. Stylish Wallow is filled with these curious moments and mysterious tones. Noticing these, we notice how skilled Axine is as a producer and how wonderfully developed these arrangements are.
There are other mysterious elements to this collection that I am still piecing together… At the midpoint of the album we stumble into the 9-minute “What Is This Place”, a lengthy meditation, a very hollow and abstract type of music. It’s as if we’ve mistakenly entered some empty room and now we are scanning the walls for some clues. Where have we arrived? Apparently nowhere very pretty. Then there is the door.. a tiny recording of a creaking old door that I swear appears again and again throughout the record, sometimes as a transitory effect and in other moments playing very melodically in the mix. These elements are very strange and interesting. To us, they suggest that Stylish Wallow plays with these ideas of “entering and exiting”, “arriving and leaving”, and the pain of how we may find ourselves comfortable with neither option. I won’t suggest Axine had any of these themes in mind, but they’re still fun to think about.