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Axon – Neuron: Dreamstate

Axon – Neuron is an Akron, Ohio – based jazz – prog fusion band that includes Sandra Kung, on vocals and keyboards; Jeremey Poparad on guitar; Joe Leaman, on keyboards; Matt DeRubertis, on bass; and Elliot Wallace, on percussion. The band was formed by Jeremey Poparad in 2011, and they released their first album Brain Songs in May 2011. Dreamstate is the follow – up, released in June of 2012.

For someone who enjoys jazz and prog, the fusion of these great genres created an early interest. As an Ohio native I had to check them out. The iTunes clips were interesting enough to want to hear more. So I was happy when they sent the demo for further exploration.

Imagine excellent female vocals and cool lyrics set to exquisite compositions. Sit back and relax and let your dream state unfold…

"Bloom", one of the album's best tracks, opens with some very cool piano and keyboard synth effects supported well with excellent full bass driving through the middle of the soundscape. Solid drums and more spacey keys kick in, before the first, whisper – like sounds of Kung's perfect jazzy voice: "It begins with a seed, oh so small and unassuming". Brilliant. The lyrics and music have a wonderful peaceful, yet awakening quality to them. Takes me right back to some of my favorite tracks off Cirrus Bay's albums. The drums and keys are so perfect and calming. Kung's vocals compliment the relaxing melodies filling the airwaves.

The thud of drums and then massive bass before heavy electric lead guitar opens "Machina". But, then they slow it down with some excellent guitar picking and bass with Kung just slowly releasing each word as if were a treasure. "The release and capture. Spinning gears and rigid mechanisms. Life mechanical. The past and future. Interactions of fluid organisms". Boom like that. Yeah…wait there's more. "The framework is set. The logic as yet is soundly expressed. My mind is at rest." But then… "Chaos interrupts"…and one of the best guitar, bass, drum, and keyboard explosions I have heard this year is unleashed. You gotta experience it. Impossible to completely describe. Kung's vocals on the next set of lyrics are simply incredible. "As I begin to feel confidence. Within my magnificently managed machinery. Now you appear and inject creativity. Colorful unpredictability into it all." Then some cool Rush – like rhythms…as if they needed anything more to make this better. Nice.

"Whole" opens with some cool Hackett – like guitar surrounded by cool echoing keys gliding through. Kung's youthful vocals are simply perfect, set against the power and rhythm of the music machine playing around her. Kung's vocals flow so comfortably that you feel like she has been singing these songs all her life. The band adds in some of those excellent Hackett – like guitar build –up, swelling riffs, which must have tipped the scales to push this track up near the front of the album. The best is still yet to come though…

"Soñar" and "Maelstrom" are my favorite tracks on the album. I have not had the disc long enough to decide which is best though. This track is the reason you will buy the disc. With a title like "Dreamstate", this is what probably attracted you to the album. Those warm bass chords, soft spacey keys and dreamy sequences provide the perfect opening to Kung's singing: "We met in a dream. A beauty of perfect elegance graced my sight". My first listen was while looking at pictures of the ocean I had taken. and that memory fit so well with this music. At times it feels like a trip back to the past with some wonderful King Crimson – and "Wind and Wuthering" - like sounds. The memories seem to flow like mist through the dream – like cloud. Then the piano takes over. Awesome. Perfect. With drums keeping pace and bass accompanying. Yeah exquisite. 'Nuff said. Enjoy.

"No Más", picks up where "Soñar" left off. It opens with a very cool mix of Rush rhythms and riffs, mixed well with jazz bass and well placed cymbals and drums. The guitar soloing throughout this track is amazing and the best on the album. Kung's vocals are back to that cool jazzy sound.

"Maelstrom" will take you out to sea. Close your eyes and prepare for the journey. Kung opens, "The sea is serene. The once wild winds have waned. The water's soft sheen. A cool, calm composure it has gained", all set to soft strings, and acoustic guitar. But the refrain is Kung's best showcase. I love how she sings, "I will be your port of safe harbor. In rough seas I will be your anchor. I will be your shelter from the maelstrom". The track is full of excellent lyrics, and wonderful, soft strings and guitar.

"The air is mostly still. An almost imperceptible breeze drifts by", softly opens "The Foundation". Yeah, Kung does a wonderful job setting the mood well. The guitar, keys, strings and piano that follow build a good steady rhythm. Excellent musicianship throughout.

Excellent guitar, bass, and keyboard rhythms open "The Stars". Just like the stars slowly unfolding as the sun sets. Nice. "The earth stands still, wrapped in dark wings. The bed of shimmer solace, drift in a sea of sleep". Yeah, great lyrics and then Kung's bold delivery of, "The stars!" Great piano filling the air teamed with the soft pace of the drums. Then some lightning blast electric guitar licks…just for fun.

"Danseuses de Delphes" opens full of guitar licks and riffs. Then classical almost grand piano takes over. Beautiful beyond belief.

This album was such a wonderful surprise. Something out of the ordinary. Full of space and time. A fantastic Dreamstate…whenever you need it.

Track Listing:

1. Bloom
2. Machina
3. Whole
4. Soñar
5. No Más
6. Maelstrom
7. The Foundation
8. The Stars
9. Danseuses de Delphes

Added: September 25th 2012
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
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Hits: 2156
Language: english

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