Friday Night Tune: Peter Van Hoesen – Axis Mundi

Although I generally have no regrets from the long sabbatical I took from electronic music in the early years of this century, there are a few things which continue to niggle. The jaded feeling I had probably soured me against some pretty decent music, leaving me unwilling to give a lot of stuff more than a cursory glance before finding some little element in it that stuck out a little too much. When you get to the point where you’re looking for excuses not to listen to something, it’s probably better to knock it on the head for a bit. Leave it well alone.

On the whole, I’m glad I did. The love eventually came back. I was able to throw myself back into it again with perhaps even more fervour than I had the first time around. But it took a while, and in that time entire eras past. Detroit and Chicago, once so important, seemed to diminish slightly; still providing the world with incredible music and artists but perhaps not with the same influence. Berlin rose to take the place it always threatened to – the centre of a continental (and increasingly, global) scene. And the hard, route one bangers of the early millennium were slowly replaced by minimal tunes that seemed an overly mannered reaction to its own immediate past.

It turns out, though, that I missed quite a bit of good stuff while I was away. I’ve done my best to catch up, and I’m mostly there, but now and again I stumble over things that I simply didn’t take onboard either then or once I got back into it all. Peter Van Hoesen’s career is still not something I pay enough attention too. He really started out a ways back when I was busy ignoring everything. I’m still discovering a lot of his work. In truth I tend to enjoy his occasional Sendai project with Yves De Mey more than his solo work, the sharp neuropunk feel of Sendai fitting in neatly with that technological/social Chiban night city disconnection that burned into my imagination the first time I read William Gibson. I don’t know whether the name ‘Sendai’ is a nod to the powerful, cutting edge cyberspace decks Case uses in the Sprawl Trilogy, but it fits so well I don’t really care.

This track, Van Hoesen’s own Axis Mundi, emerged as I was feeling my way back into things again. I had already learned a lot, but it was a mix for MNML SSGS by Spanish producer Svreca that introduced me to Van Hoesen properly with Axis Mundi buried away somewhere in the 4 hour long set. Strangely enough it also kind of represents several different things which came to prominence in my down time: Put out as part of a sampler for one of the Berghain mix CDs and published by Ostgut Ton I don’t think I could have found a piece of music that represented so many changes to the scene in the years I was absent, the mammoth contemporary importance of these two Berlin institutions amongst them.

The tune itself is deep, pure bred trance; hypnotic and captivating, its power lies not in minute alterations spread out over an eternity but in an ever changing blizzard of frequency that always threatens a disorientating white out but never actually leaves you blind. But even if it did you could always follow the concrete heartbeat of the kick drum back to safety; the drive of the drum is the immoveable object to the tune’s irresistible force.

I’ve sometimes felt a bit like a guy who has woken from a coma and wondered what the hell happened to everything, what brought about so many changes. But there are always constants, good music being one of them. And good music will always be there even if you aren’t. Sometimes you need to close your ears for a while to realise that. I’m glad I did, but I’m even more glad I started listening again.