“When I was little, my father was famous. He was the greatest Samurai in the empire, and he was the Shogun’s decapitator”. Sampling an eerie voice out of Robert Houston’s 1980 film “Shogun Assasin”, AxH sets the tone for a dark and tense intro track. Devil Shogun is one of those beats that will set an atmosphere in any dance, reaching back to those earlier dubstep days were atmosphere was king. An organic sounding drum pattern, mixed down as sharp as the shogun’s blade, drives the weighty sub pattern. Finally a melodic series of stabs come in to make “Devil Shogun” by far my personal favourite on the four track EP. The moody atmosphere is carried on into the intro of the EP’s second and more dancefloor oriented track with Belgium’s ARtroniks. Reverbed pads and subtle percussion hits are accompanied by a reese drone to create a tense buildup in “Fading Away”. The track itself has everything a stereotypical dubstep beat should have, although I am pleasantly surprised with the Icicle–esque stabs. Fading Away is a proper production and I’m sure it would go off in a dance, but it just sounds a bit outdated to me.
With an intro that’s closer related to the vibe of “Devil Shogun” rather than any of the other tracks, “Phasma Black” draws from the soundscape side of music. Distorted pads and a gloomy piano sample mark the start, while a fast paced hat patterns draws us further into the track. A bassline that could remind one of earlier Coki / Benga days is alternated with lush samples and drumbreaks. “Phasma Black” is one of those productions which show us AxH’s versatility as an electronic music producer. “Boneyard Keeper” is a perfectly engineered EP closer underpinned by meticulous sub work. The dubwise style delayed samples work well, but just feels like something that has been done plenty before. Once we reach the 2:17 mark it’s a different story though. There’s a sudden switch up in the track, announced by a menacing vocal sample, drawing the listeners into a deeper and darker dimensions within the mix.
Devil Shogun is out now and available from Juno Download.