Axis: Sova find solid rock footing within hazy psych on the new Shampoo You | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Axis: Sova find solid rock footing within hazy psych on the new Shampoo You 

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click to enlarge Axis:Sova

Axis:Sova

Grant Engstrom

Over the back catalog of Axis: Sova—which includes four full-lengths, a handful of singles, and one tape-only release—the local trio unfold a shocking persistence of vision. On their upcoming dispatch, Shampoo You (God? Records), they continue to embrace the freest moments of Brett Sova thrumming guitar discord, and set them within a sturdier rock scaffolding than ever before. While aspects of the spacey, 12-minute title track from 2012’s Weight of Color are still present, more tuneful early gambits, such as the classic-rock-imbued “Raising Hell,” from the same album, now seem like woodshedding for Shampoo You. Sova started Axis: Sova as a solo project, and here he’s joined here by longtime guitarist Tim Kaiser and new bassist Jeremy Freeze; as always, a Roland TR-66 Rhythm Arranger backs the live instrumentation. The music on the album comes off as less synthetic than previous efforts, perhaps because of the more fully developed melodic conceits of its compositions. “We put a lot of work into getting the right sounds in the studio with this record, from the guitars and vocals to the drums,” Sova wrote me in an e-mail. “As we were in the studio, we of course made use of additional percussion here and there, but it’s still based on the drum machine and the specific beats we can conjure.” Cuts such as “Dodger” and “Crystal Predictor” herald the deepening influence of downer 70s rock, and the latter tune contains some of the most distinct, harmony-laden vocal work the ensemble have produced. The sheer force of Sova’s clamorous guitar playing—his succinct melodies as well as his shambolic solos—pushes tracks such as “Shock Recognition” far beyond the one-man kosmische material, even as hazy psych remains Axis: Sova’s load-bearing pillar.   v

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