A figure appears through the labyrinth of florescent drapes, strobing with ultra-violet lights. She’s void of expression, hypnotised in her individual realm she perpetually gyrates, wearing a black figure-hugging bodysuit, highly decorated in costume jewellery constructed from glowsticks. It’s not the image families would conceive of when thinking of Longleat, rather a cheeky posse of rhesus macaque monkeys ripping the rubber insulation off their Volvo.
Yet the Wiltshire raver of yore will note, and reminisce, to trek to Swindon’s Brunel Rooms would be to face happy hardcore, jungle or house, whereas there was a tribal movement of tranced techno-heads, a conglomerate of Wilts and Somerset rural ravers in the basement of the Warminster manor, and it took on a wildlife of its own; the UFO Club at the Berkley Suite. Memories of it flood what’s left of my neurons, I’m halfway into Trowbridge DJ and Producer, Neonian’s debut EP Vaxxor, released this coming Friday (5th March.)
Not before the opening title track, that is, which detonates a more breakbeat house prose at you, something for the peaky middle of a set by Plump DJs in a glasshouse club off Brighton beach in the latter nineties. There’s a lot going on here, for a four track EP, and it’s having all subgenres large.
Released through Weatnu Records, there’s parts of Vaxxor where I thought a more conventional and contemporary danceable beat might rear its head, but it doesn’t, it solidly rides a wave of classic electronic dance music with a penchant for the techno-trance feel, hence my memories of the UFO Club. That said, Vaxxor, as a tune contains definite traces of punky chemical beats, akin the Prodigy or Chemical Brothers, yet rather than a gimmicky vocal or sample element for possible mass-appeal, Neonian seems aware pop has detracted from this trend of recent, ergo its concentration is on perusing a consistent beat and sonic hi-hats.
This leaves you semi-prepared for the more trance-techno sound of the following tune, Glow. For this it is thumbs up as the most poignantly danceable, in the four-by-four psytrance fashion akin to Goa trance. Hypnotic Jerk takes elements of this, and slides into a downbeat “hypnotic cocoon teetering on the edge of normality.” Imagine Nightmares on Wax if triphop hadn’t been invented. We’re in the chillout tent, Eat Static are playing a Sunday morning set, that’s where it is; yeah, I’m with you, mate, got a flyer I can roach?!
All these four tracks were recorded during the lockdowns, and together are a glorious testament to the psych-subgenres of the UK underground dance scene. But if you’ve any misgivings to the variety of the melting pot, I’ll confirm Neonian blends and crafts it with distinct precision. To affirm he’s clearly nodding to his influences, the testament comes to a finale like a returning migratory bird to its nest. Proof to the Tower finishes this short journey off with something, though layered with aforementioned influences, strips the sound back the subgenres’ combined roots.
Proof to the Tower drips with elegant attributes of post-punk electronica, aligning New Order, Depeche Mode and even the stiffer originators, Kraftwerk and The Art of Noise. The EP is getting radio plays from BBC Radio Wiltshire, Kinetic7Radio (Bleeps & Beats show), Radio TFSC and Radio Wigwam, and I’m far from surprised.
Neonian is the work of Ian Sawyer, who has previously released a few singles, a mini LP ‘Treasure’ and provided remixes for Frannie B, NNYz?, Sergeant Thunderhoof and James Harriman. “I make music, for myself,” Ian explains, “I can’t really describe it but it’s mainly made with synthesisers, loops and samples. Influences include New Order, Boards Of Canada, Coil, Pye Corner Audio, Factory Floor, and Russ Abbot.” Unsure about citing that last one, though Vaxxor certainly has an atmosphere!
Nonetheless these tributes to the pioneers of electronica and nineties trance, techno and breakbeats are often viewed as rather soulless, this does what it says on the tin while retaining something fresh to boot. Clearly, four tracks with Neonian aren’t enough, I’d like to hear a fully-mixed electronic concept album, perhaps, to be fully sucked into its deep and hypnotic grooves.
Excuse me for being so fussy, but some uplifting sections, with gimmicky elements such as female vocals would be advantageous. Not solely for my own palate, rather in hope it’ll attract the attention of a wider audience. As, like William Orbit did when he got the phone call from Madonna, I think while Vaxxor is damn cool with florescent socks on, Neonian, I feel has yet to achieve his magnum opus, but when he does, judging by this EP, you’ll want to standing in the middle of it, making boxes and reaching for the stars.
Available on all Digital Platforms March 5th 2021; ‘Vaxxor’ is now available to Pre-Order on Bandcamp via the following link. You get to download the track ‘Glow’ now and the rest of the EP when it is released on March 5th.