Axon’s 39th release marks the return of TR20 to the label, with ‘Dark Skies’. Stephen J Kroos and Alex Nemec and Nik Feral provide the remixes.
Axon was one of TR20’s earliest homes, seeing them turn in the standout mix of Che Armstrong and Chris Johnson’s ‘Warehouse 34’ last year (and of course, the label has long played host to Jack Withakay’s output). Since then their reputation has really skyrocketed due to appearances on Pro-B-Tech and a string of big releases on their own Kyubu label. This is their first original track on Axon, and ‘Dark Skies’ is a powerful brooder, skirting the boundary between progressive and techno. Driving percussion and bassy rumbles set the tone, while subtle stabs and cinematic, brassy sweeps build into a spooky breakdown before the track takes off.
I really don’t know what about TR20’s original track inspired Stephen J Kroos to add in hard-hitting piano stabs throughout his reworking, but ‘inspired’ is the right word. Kroos keeps the track taut and moody, with razor-sharp hi-hats and an incredible elastic bass propelling things forward, but it’s the piano that really lifts this remix to this next level, superimposing a classic house vibe onto the track’s warped techy goodness. This is a superbly creative and distinctive remix from Stephen J Kroos, and my pick of the offerings here.
Alex Nemec and Nik Feral play up the more menacing side of TR20’s track, with a churning bassline and periodic growls underwriting a delicate piano motif, which comes to the fore after the remix’s brief breakdown. It’s the juxtaposition between the lighter and the darker elements of the remix that really works here.
This is another strong package from Axon, with Stephen J Kroos’s superb take on TR20’s track providing the highlight for my money. 8/10