By Jose Mujica
April 13, 2019
Hip hop instrumentals are works of magic. There’s something about the rhythmic loops and drum patterns that soothes some part of the human soul. Developing an appreciation for the craft often coincides with developing an addiction for it as well. Who hasn’t come home and decompressed from the stresses of life by laying in bed, closing their eyes and letting ‘LoFi Beats To Study/Relax To’ sweep you away from the material realm? At the very least, most can appreciate it as background music, something to have on to keep the sobering silence of reality at bay. But occasionally some instrumentals rise above and refuse to be relegated to the sidelines. Through sheer sonic tenacity these tracks compel themselves to be heard and listened to intently and purposefully. Charlotte producer/artist, Axnt’s latest EP Double Image is comprised of seven such tracks that hold one’s attention and refuse to let go.
The opening track “Shady Characters” begins leisurely, basking in the glittery, spacey ambiance that sounds like one is floating aimlessly through space before the kicks come in and begin to breathe life into this nascent universe. The beat drops with a metallic bang and our journey begins in Axnt’s unique world. The dark alternative trap vibe is cemented as Travis Scott’s adlibs “Yeah” punctuate the track. A Pavlovian response perhaps.
As if to pre-emptively rebut any critics who may say tracks on beat tapes end up blending together and sounding alike, Axnt’s second track “Cosmos REDUX” goes out of it’s way. A psychedelic orchestra of shifting sounds and melodies dancing in and out and around the drum loop backbone before it metamorphs into a more sinister and high-tempo sound by the end. A satisfying song that by the end feels like a distinct experience.
Double Image then proceeds to bring you back down a bit with the down-tempo, carefree “Chillingdawn,” the perfect soundtrack to a leisurely cruise around town. But the fourth song, “Mind Lost” is the standout track. Grimy rumbling bass that’ll guarantee a stinkface out of any bystander who listens. A rudeboy patois vocal sample that speaks to the shotta in all of us. It makes you want to stomp around your city, making sure everyone knows it before the beat switches to a groovy tune that would fit in any dark, damp, and raunchy dance hall. It’s a track that makes you want to sweat.
The project is distinct, well-thought and put together while maintaining a crisp, trippy but cohesive vibe throughout. The final track, “ProtoPattern,” also aims to end the EP on a high note. The thoughtfulness and effort is clear on this tape. The hypnotic blend of hip-hop, electronic, and industrial sounds are captivating; evidence of masterful skill in this producer’s arsenal. A promising release for Axnt and for the Durham-based RAUND HAUS label.