There’s an old Deadhead at work constantly interrupting phone calls and conversations, never with anything more than a lament on his shitty Chicago Bears or an amazing story about his daughter finally wiping her own ass. There’s always a sound softly escaping my speakers, generally something he can’t stand. He’ll go on for days about Warren Haynes and Ratdog, but he’ll scoff at the heavy shit. "Ya can’t even understand what they’re sayin’!" I don’t even bother explaining my take on that. I also don’t give a fuck about anything Bob Weir is doing right now.
Friday’s interruption came in abbreviated form. Before he could talk about this "good-sized muskie" he caught, he paused and asked "Whaddaya got goin’ there? Some jammy stuff, huh?" That jammy stuff that prompted his approval was Long Island’s Axis/Orbit, a psychedelic three-piece serving three cloudy tracks of heady stoner rock, throwing themselves back to decades lost on their debut EP. Cool fuzz and patient grooves clash, meld, and craft a quick promise of laid-back escape. An escape I needed.
It’s been ages since I strayed entirely from shit-slung sludge on a Sunday morning, but Axis/Orbit struck me with their balance of smooth and fuzzy.
Hazy opens gentle and deliberate, echoing beneath guitar reps and establishing a groove that’s both fastened and focused. That fuzz is held at bay until a clean vocal haunts, hanging a tapestry that itches for an interruption of spiked buzz. The blur is excellent, and the subsequent chin-dribbling guitar goodness is nothing shy of delicious.
The Owl is quicker and more inquisitive. Again, A/O are gently pensive, but the underlying doubt saturates to the point of being rueful. The fuzzy midpoint is perfectly-timed and wholly engulfing, brief but poignant. Those sticky guitars stick to your teeth until the bass-driven submission splits the song in two. But closing with blazing, mossy layers of fuzz? Fucking artful.
Introducing the EP’s final track on a tandem of immediate bombast and wet cobblestone tiptoes only scratches the skin of one awesome closer. Slow mist approaches as an evening ease settles. Cosmic guitars fork in any multitude of directions and lead listeners into a bass-driven stretch of panning rhythms, breaking into expeditious jams that (somehow) never lose footing. Escalations repeat until breaths can’t be bought, but we’re thankfully offered a cool, merciful release. It’s the EP’s best track, which speaks volumes.
Three quick spits are hardly an appetizer, but I’m sticking around. The band’s pedigree is stout and whether these jams chew up five minutes or twenty-seven, Axis/Orbit know that to captivate, they need balance, groove, and ingenuity. Well, they have those things, and that hardly provides a summation. Fuzz doesn’t hurt. But promising a full-length in 2015, an EP is a perfect tease. I’m listening. And so is that asshole at work. Thanks, guys. Now he’s never gonna leave.