Boomkat Product Review:
Noise sorcerer Luke Younger aka Helm taps back into his most vital, instinctive muse for a blisteringly lush and visceral new venture with US powerhouse Dais, including guest chops by Lucy Railton, John Hannon, Alexander Tucker, and Sightings’ Mark Morgan.
A very welcome skull rinse from the London outlier, ‘Axis’ sees Luke back at the edge of the abyss, where, in his own words; “I tuned back in to working with noise techniques again: more primitive equipment, cheap FX, contact mics, noise boxes.” Gone is the colour of his ‘Chemical Flowers’, to be replaced by wickedly crudimentary atonalities and crankiest, hallucinatory spatialisation given shape and spirit by his hands on approach and its guest contributions by the likes of Lucy Railton (cello), Mark Morgan ov Sightings (guitar), Alex Tucker (vocals), and clammy skin crawling strings by the late, legendary John Hannon - Luke’s longtime collaborator and owner of the Essex studio where half of the record was laid down, before Luke put it together in his kitchen and living room. The final touches were lent by Randall Dunn’s masterful mixing and baked to a finish by Stefan Betke’s mastering.
It’s fair to say we haven’t really encountered anything quite so unapologetically vicious and malevolent as ‘Axis’ since start of the pandemic, but it’s executed with a life-affirming vitality that we didn’t realise we needed until it hits. Setting teeth on edge and bristling the hackles, Luke makes no bones about it; this is Helm at his best worst, committing tattered tape tekkers in the seasick slosh of ‘Para’, and knuckling out stygian rhythms and strangulated strings in ‘Mosikto’, with glimpses of noxious ambient relief on ‘Crash’ giving way to primitive techno urges on the dank glory of ‘Repellent’. And that all feels like he’s seasoning your meat for the crushing one-two finale of Ligeti-esque horrorchestration and fuck off distortion on the title track, and his ultimate, pent, dramatic ascent of ‘Tower.’