Review: Vax – Chaotic Neutral / Hexerei [PH024]

Portland based digi-label Phantom Hertz drops two techno-influenced heads down rollers by the Philadelphia badman Vax. Slowly inching his way back to that 140 template from his forays and dabbling with DnB rhythmic structures, Vax doesn’t disappoint (as if he could) and we here at TRUSIK absolutely love the tunes Vax is cranking out atm. PH024 is no exception, as Vax keeps up his Killawatt-like production pace in the form of ‘Chaotic Neutral’ and ‘Hexerei’ and all stars, signs, and augers point to an increasingly bright future. Label bosses across the pond take notice. Seriously.

Up first on the A side is ‘Chaotic Neutral’. This one has been floating around as a dub for some time now – doing the rounds in countless sets from American DJs like Conscious Pilot and Lurch (who has cut Vax to acetate) to name few. Tape hiss is grafted onto gently filtered kicks as ‘Chaotic Neutral’ cracks its way through dubspace. All of a sudden, loose and swinging 2-steppy drums start to make your shoulders samba and your dancing shoes to groove. Underneath the swing and skip, an undulating sub swells and beefs the kicks to make any speaker-box rock. Congas and bongos become layered atop the garage percs, creating a loping quality that mesmerizes and hypnotizes – conjuring images of the Hyades, the Pleiades and Aldebaran. As our star bodies edge closer towards the Seven Sisters sacrificing the bull, our form shifts from solid to gaseous, atom by atom we become undone, the space between all of us grows wider as a fluctuating, corrosive synth engulfs your astral self, fusing into the bipolymer strands your DNA. Soon the forward lean of the sub and the needling synth intertwine with the garage percussion to form a multi-tentacled riddim that pulls you ever closer toward Carcosa.

Meanwhile on the flip, ‘Hexerei’ is all micro-processed flecks of drums harnessed to a pneumatic b-line that quivers the rib-cage and will drive any soundbwoy into a frenzy. Paranoid snatches of breath flow from the center of dubspace to darken the dance up. Rhythmelodic bongos splash color on the monochrome grey that constitutes ‘Hexerei’ and will wear out those dancing shoes if you aren’t careful. Forgoing any decrease or ratcheting down of dancefloor energy, Vax peels away the dust of the drums and leaves the sub to plummet further down to the core of the Earth. The hot air escapes – what sounds like screams or gasps float toward the surface. The bongos realign themselves and ‘Hexerei’ continues to roll inward toward the center.

It’s the brilliantly simple stuff like the absence of a traditional ‘scene-setting’ breakdown that makes Vax such an interesting producer. His tunes aren’t reliant on samples to set the mood nor any flashy studio-trickery. His tunes are more like meat and potatoes, hearty and filling. They re-affirm why you fell in love with dubstep – for the bass and the drums and Vax does both in spades. Their strength comes from their simple urge to make you move. Labels both across the pond and here in the states should prick up their ears a bit more and pay attention to Vax, he is surely deserving of larger attention.

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