Maxxess (Max Schiefele) - electric and acoustic guitars, native synths|
- Tsunami (ext. version) [10:10]
- Contact [8:38]
- Indian Skies [7:35]
- Close Encounter [5:59]
- Exile [6:46]
- Behind The Mirror [24:13]
Axess (Axel Stupplich) - analog, digital and native synthesizers
Electronic music meets progressive music.
This sound material combines electronic music with rockmusic. Electronic soundsculptures and rockmusic were combined to an unity, never been heard before.
2004. Press information
Axess & Maxxess is the encounter between two virtuosos; a synthesist and a guitarist. The result is an EM unusual mixture where the guitar prevails of its solos in an electronic universe where synths and sequencers orchestrate structures without borders.
From the depth of an atmospheric abyssal filled by genial effects, a heavy drone gets Tsunami out of its torpor. A linear sequence is hatched by rotary pulsations and acoustic percussions to gets the movement progressed on a tempo which become animated at each refrain, where the guitar of Maxxess bites the harmony with full strings. On each passage the tempo is accentuating on heavier riffs, nimble and incisive slender solos on a permuting sequence and astonishing percussions.
The title track, Contact, begins on subtle tinkling, accompany by a beautiful acoustic guitar. The impulsion progresses beneath ethereal choirs and an electric six-strings which charms the ears with its notes and tearing solos. The sequence is slinky until a big riff gets the movement wilder. Itís the explosion! Strong guitar riffs and percussions hammer the atmosphere among breezes of a mellotron synth. The tempo becomes corrosive with a furious acoustic guitar which harnesses a sequential movement waddling beneath a cloud of violent riffs and aggressive solos. Contact is heavy with superb orchestral arrangements where strings synths subtly frame the wild madness of Maxxess. Metallic percussions resound in a silent desert where a synth layer is flooding of harmonious pads. A fine sequential procession waddles its cheerful chords which are leaking away in the echotic mazes of percussions.
Quietly Indian Skies takes form on a minimalism tempo, shaken by notes and solos of limpid guitars. The sequence accelerates on a galloping rhythm, pursued by a threatening six-strings. The tempo boils on powerful staccato riffs which lead to wild solos and rhythms. This is a great electronic rock move! This concept of atmospheric intro, slow processions and segmented rhythms is reproducing also on Close Encounter and Exile; two fiery titles.
We have to wait until Behind the Mirror to really get an equitable blend of electronic and progressive music. Like all of the others intros, this one is atmospheric and is mainly leaned on synth layers with sharp-edged curves. As much atmospheric, and on a very Floydian sonority, the guitar fuses plaintive and nostalgic solos on superb stagnant pads filled of celestial harmonies. A waving sequence, sustained by a good bass with loop effects, initiates a very Berlin School movement with small keys waddling in harmony with the impulsion. Around the 7th minute the riffs, as well as electronic as electric, burst in a perfect symbiosis. We are in the embryo of a superb sequential movement with hypnotic and hammering percussions to dazzling reverberations as well as ethereal choirs on a fluid movement with intermittent metallic pulsations, souvenirs of the riffs symbiosis. Itís an intense musical monument which slows down in half-time with a waddling movement which dies out on atmospheric breezes, where choirs and wind blow. A sequential loop is reforming a mutation in tones with tonality in mutation on unbridle acoustic percussions and heavy sequential pulsations that a synth layer wraps before the guitar explodes in fury. Behind the Mirror is a superb track which is the result of a perfect symbiosis.
Contact is an album resolutely more rock than progressive and/or electronic. Put aside Tsunami and Behind the Mirror, as well as the intros, the guitar prevails of its aggressive solos and riffs. I liked, but I would have appreciated a little more synths. It seems to me that the strident solos of Axess would have matched perfectly those of Maxxess. On the other hand, sequencers, sound effects, percussions, as well as arrangements, are amazing. In fact, I guess that it was necessary to leave some room for the guitar. Under this angle, Contact achieves its goals; to combine the ingeniousness of EM, like its sequential subtlety, to heavy riffs and guitars rock. Itís a solid album which contains too many small jewels to let it pass. For fans of rock and guitars on inventive sequences and EM fan, Contact is among the musts.
Sylvain Lupari / Guts of Darkness
For a brief moment, I thought I had my hands on the third CD of the German Max Schiefele, aka Maxxess, because "Contact" is a logical follow up to his two earlier releases "Electrixx" and "The Sequel". But then I paid more attention and noticed than on "Contact" there is more focus on the keyboards, and I woke up.
Axess Stupplich plays these magnificently. Not that guitar fans are short changed on this new release, but this instrument is more in the service of the song and therefore less in the foreground. It is, however, noticeable that the strings are heavier (the title track is a good example), which makes "Contact" a bit darker sounding, but that is fitting for this time of year.
All that said, this is a delightful CD on which Joe Satriani jams with Rick Wakeman (I wish!), if you get my drift.
Here is instrumental muscling, which always stays in good taste. These two gentlemen have a bright future ahead of them.
Andrť de Waal / SonicImmersion.org
Max Schiefele, the man behind Maxxess, loves to rock. Although electronics do figure prominently in his music, they tend to play a supporting role for his scorching lead guitar solos. His albums play more like rock albums than EM albums, reminding me of guitar gods like Eric Johnson and Steve Vai.
On Contact he collaborates with Axess, namely synthesist Axel Stupplich from the very EM-based Pyramid Peak trio.
So how does it sound when Axess and Maxxess collide?
In a word, excellent. In fact, I told Axel that I hadn't heard his new Pyramid Peak CD Caveland yet because Contact has rarely left my player, especially in the car. This is the best summer driving music Iíve heard in a long time.
"Tsunami" starts with great synth textures and sequencing. It takes a while before Max plays his ax, but when he does it augments the music perfectly, classic guitar riffs played in a restrained manner, adding a wonderful melody to the synthesizer backing. It works on all levels, and makes a great intro.
A strong synth sequence opens the title track. Guitars bring a nice melody along for the ride, first acoustic then electric. Drums are the last to arrive, and as it crescendos a key change steps it up a notch. Very cool electronics follow, and a majestic set of electric guitar chords that move slowly up, then down the scale, letting each chord ring out for a few seconds before building to the next. This is powerful, captivating stuff.
There are at least three distinct passages to the piece, and it deftly moves from one to the next, each as good as the one before. It has all the hallmarks of a rock anthem, combined with the synthesizer sensibilities of Berlin school, a combination that works beautifully here and throughout the entire disc, culminating in the 24-minute tour de force "Behind the Mirror".
Phil Derby / Electroambient Space
AX is Axel Stupplich of (of Pyramid Peak) who teams up here with guitarist extraordinaire MAXX. Their musical alchemy produces a striking blend of pulsing sequences, dense undulating electronic currents and super sonic guitar excursions. Filled with melody as well as dynamic compositions, and waves of synthetic sound, CONTACT is a "killer".
Contact is a collaborative album from German musicians Max Schiefele (Maxxess) and Axel Supplich (Axess) who both combine synths and programming with Maxxess's acoustic and electric guitar.
The result is electronic music with a gritty edge thanks to the electric guitar, and while it sometime hints at prog rock it's very much an album that should appeal to EM fans.
It reminded me of the way Helmut Teubner combined electric guitar with synths and sequencing on the title track of Heavens Light to spice up the sound.
The first track on an album is undoubtedly the most important because it gives the listener his [or her, ed.] first impression of the music, so it's not surprising that "Tsunami" was chosen to get Contact underway. Loops, rhythm, synth pads, and a simple melody get the piece going with an air of expectancy before being joined by electric guitar; at this point it's like the early stages of a tsunami building up, then after a few minutes the guitar really comes into its own as it performs a rolling melody reflecting the power and awe of a tsunami striding across the sea - it's at this point I found it difficult to avoid playing air guitar!
The exciting parts are interspersed with motifs heard at the start -- as though the wave is regrouping -- and then the guitar blares its exciting melody and riffs accompanied by drums and hi-hat. Eventually the track comes to a relatively restrained end, leaving me wanting more than the ten minutes worth.
Four of the remaining five tracks are relatively short, coming in at between six and nine minutes. Though "Contact" and "Indian Skies" do not stand out, the shortest piece "Close Encounter" has a pleasing guitar melody over a rhythmic base that made me imagine a positive encounter with a stranger.
Following on from this is the up-tempo "Exile" which for the first half is electronic but becomes somewhat prog rockish with more great guitar work.
The longest track "Behind the Mirror" brings the album to a close with varying paces and a mixture of unsettling ambient sound effects (conveying a sense of seeing behind a mirror to an alternate reality), some great rhythms and melody, a slightly Pink Floydesque guitar, and beepy sequencing.
I've become so hooked on "Tsunami" that it's now one of the most frequently played pieces of music in my house.
Though a couple of tracks are only so-so, overall Contact is a superb album that is likely to make my 2004 top ten list. Definitely recommended.