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Live Review: Happy Axe's 'Seven Sounds' is a pristine, metallic slice of ambient-pop

22 March 2018 | 10:30 am | Kyle Fensom

Happy Axe unveils 'Seven Sounds', an ambient-pop track that feels like a crackling, one-way communication from a far-off, lonely space.

The forward-thinking, artist-run Spirit Level label have unveiled their latest singing, the Canberra-based singer and producer HAPPY AXE (aka EMMA KELLY), who arrives with her debut release on the label, ‘Seven Sounds’. An ambient pop track that feels like a crackling, one-way communication from some far-off, lonely space, ‘Seven Sounds’ precedes Happy Axe’s forthcoming LP Dream Punching.

Happy Axe folds haunting, ethereal layers of brooding strings and atmospheric loops into otherworldly melodies while rattling percussion and warbling subs give the track a more concrete edge. It feels like watching a metallic, nebulous object floating in space, melodic patterns coalescing and then dissipating, hypnotically unfurling new sides to its form and shape. It’s both unsettling and mesmerising at the same time. It’s cinematic in scope and scale, but solitary and singular in its focus, the surrounding gulf of empty space constantly felt at the edges of the track.

‘Seven Sounds’ invites the language of cinema because this is the distance Happy Axe wants to keep you at from the core of the song, bearing witness as she crafts an experimental electronic soundscape that feels intangible in its pristine, strange beauty, similar to a Paul Thomas Anderson film or BJÖRK’s work on Homogenic. Still, like those examples, you can always feel the human element residing within the track’s centre, a centre which is, according to Kelly, “about joyfully carrying out the things that other people have told you aren’t possible.”

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With the backing of Spirit Level now, we'll be waiting to see what other communications Happy Axe might send out from that far-off, lonely space on her Dream Punching LP.

IMAGE: Briana Davis