A versatile totem from Warp Records
The WXAXRXP Sessions is a celebration of Warp Record’s 30th year anniversary and the eclectic artists they support and continue to work with. The sessions, featuring artists Mount Kimbie, Aphex Twin, Bibio, Boards of Canada, Flying Lotus, Kelly Moran, Oneohtrix, LFO, Plaid and SeeFeel, compile unheard originals and reworkings of old songs, allowing each artist four tracks on the record. The entirety of the project spans over four hours, but with the diverse array of artists and consistent dynamic changes, the project proves a joy to listen to, creating a singular totem for Warp Records to showcase their talented roster.
The juxtapositions on the WXAXRXP Sessions are beautifully layered and just as one artist’s sound begins to feel redundant, the record shifts into new themes, novel instruments and fresh performers. This is best heard from Aphex Twin’s chaotic, 8-bit electronica turn into Bibio’s soulful, intimate songwriting. This major change of pace would normally be unwelcome on a traditional record, but as the warped synth pads of Aphex Twin’s “Pancake Lizard” fall into Bibio’s harmonic vocals in his rendition of “Haikuesque,” a listener can fully appreciate the versatility of Warp Record’s sound.
After Boards of Canada’s ambient set, including an updated rendition of their chill hop song “Aquarius,” came Flying Lotus. While all artists displayed significant talent and intricate production styles, Flying Lotus’s set was a highlight from the record. Performing with Steven Lee Bruner, or Thundercat, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and Ravi Coltrane, the group displayed masterful fusions of jazz, hip-hop and electronica. Coltrane’s iconic saxophone solos, Thundercat’s harmonious, deep bass and Atwood-Ferguson’s string arrangements amalgamate into four unforgettable songs that redefine Lotus’s beat-making tendencies. They premiere an especially powerful, previously unheard song, “Golden Axe,” which encompasses all of the noted qualities listed above.
After Lotus, the WXAXRXP compilation flows into a more atmospheric mood to conclude the record. Kelly Moran’s minimalistic piano compositions effortlessly blended with ambient, electronic production exhibits refreshing tranquility and afterward, LFO’s pounding rhythm section reignites an energetic sound. Oneohtrix Point Never performed an especially notable set on the latter half of the record. His swelling crescendos and use of playful melodies on retro synthesizers perfectly balanced the raw energy behind his sound with a sophisticated, refined tone.
WXAXRXP concluded with outfits Plaid and SeeFeel, both IDM, cerebral, loop-driven groups who subtly washed away the climactic energy previous artists contained and brought the record to an end. Warp Records was successful in creating an engaging project that illuminated their varied sounds. Notable singles from the record include “You Look Certain (I’m Not So Sure)” by Mount Kimbie, “Petals” by Bibio, “Aquarius (Version 3)” by Boards of Canada, “Golden Axe” by Flying Lotus and “Love in the time of Lexapro” by Oneohtrix Point Never.