Axon Neuron/Vagwa – Documents 1995-2005

In the ten years of its existence, Axon Neuron, later Axon Neuron/Vagwa, has achieved somewhat of a cult status. The project from Rostock around Enrico Eisert has quite an extensive output, but only on limited tapes, vinyl and cd-r’s. Therefore I was very pleased with this double cd. It’s released by Eternal Soul Records, who last year already put out the excellent 10" Lohe by Axon Neuron/Vagwa.

"Documents 1995-2005" is not a typical ‘Best of’, rather a collection of rarities. Both cd’s are filled to the brim and last over 75 minutes, offering 25 tracks in total, with an excellent sound quality. In the booklet a detailed tracklisting and a complete discography can be found.

Disc 1 mainly offers live tracks from 2002-2004, recorded in Berlin (club Kato), Heldrungen (Flammenzauber festival) and Rostock (Fields of Sunset festival). Furthermore there are two tracks originally included on the Flammenzauber 2 compilation, an unreleased track recorded in 2002 (‘Equinoxe’) and a collaboration with Kirlian Camera (‘Aurora’). Disc 2 contains for the most part reprocessed tracks from various tapes.

The music of Axon Neuron/Vagwa is not so easy to describe. The project creates highly atmospheric soundscapes with a desolate, post-apocalyptic feel. Comparisons are sometimes made to Les Joyaux de la Princesse, though Axon Neuron does not use that many (historical) samples and has a more varied approach. The music often has two sides: there are the dark, distorted industrial sounds, but they are often combined with monumental neoclassical layers and heavenly female choirs. This opposition gives the instrumental compositions a lot of tension.

The live tracks are certainly powerful and seem to have an extra dimension, perhaps through the addition of various live musicians.. A good example is the Kirlian Camera cover U-Bahn V.2 "Heiligenstadt", where the choirs, moody synth lines, dark looops, percussion and spoken words nicely fit together. There is quite some variation between the songs, if you compare for instance the fragile ‘Monument’ with the threatening Aria Morta II, in which everything seems to collapse, or the noisy, warlike ‘Radio message 1970’.

The second disc sounds rawer and less accessible, with more ritual and industrial elements. A good example are the repetive dark drones of ‘Thorned Message I’, which sounds really oppressive, or the outright noisy ‘Thorned Message IV’. I must say that I play the first disc much more often, but Disc 2 also has good moments, with atmospheric tracks like ‘Eternal light’ and ‘Untitled I’ (with Death in June sample) or the martial ‘The Wolf Age I’.  

There is simply too much music on this impressive compilation to discuss each track in detail. It is clear though that "Documents 1995-2005" is a wonderful way to celebrate Axon Neuron/Vagwa’s tenth anniversary.

artist: Axon Neuron/Vagwa
label: Eternal Soul Records
details: 2cd, 2005 [ES CD 03]