AMN Reviews: Gianluca Becuzzi – Axis Mundi (2022; Bandcamp)

From religion and mythology, axis mundi is a pathway or bridge linking Earth, Heaven, and Hell. With that insight, its use as the title to Gianluca Becuzzi’s latest album makes sense. Becuzzi combines three distinct forms of instrumentation – synthesized drones, chanted vocals (samples from actual orthodox liturgical chants, apparently), and heavily distorted guitars. Thus, you have the landscape of Earth represented in the drones, Heavin in the chants, and Hell in the guitars. Becuzzi adds other less distinct samples and percussion into the mix, so maybe I am reading too much into this. But as a framing for exploration of the nearly two hours of material on this album, it works.

Interestingly, each of these tracks moves along points on the axis where the sounds of at least two, if not all three, planes can be heard. In fact, most of these points incorporate voice, synth, and power chords at various levels and lengths. One of these elements may be temporarily downplayed as the others take the fore, but all are represented.

Case in point, Hierophanies serves as an exemplary track. It begins with the ominous tolling of a bell, which is soon joined by background synth and massive walls of distorted guitar. The structure of this piece is more song-like than some of the others, as it has clearly-discernable patterns. One of these is a triplet of drumbeats, a high-pitched guitar motif, and the aforementioned chording that appears and reprises throughout. All this is coupled with subtle sampling and additional sparse percussion. Missing are the vocals, though they are well-represented on other tracks, many of which exhibit further abstractions as well.

Axis Mundi is yet another excellent addition to the Becuzzi oeuvre. Comparisons to Sunn O))) and drone metal are appropriate, but Becuzzi cannot be so easily pigeonholed. The album was released on October 1, so do not hesitate.