Review: Red Axes Live At Pickle Factory, London


The chilly streets of East London echoed closely as we slid languidly along, heavy lidded and trailing thin icy mist in our wake. The importance of the cold and hunger had fallen from conversational priority several pints ago and now we were concerned with finding the venue.

The Pickle Factory is a stone’s throw from the front door of Oval Space, which sits like a smug elder brother watching his sibling learn to ride a bike. Bigger than expected, categorically you’d put it alongside a fallout shelter’s research laboratory, with a mega soundsystem. Glossy white corrugated iron bathed gently in a flood of blue and lilac light, streaming from behind the stage space before which the crowd milled happily about, contented chat distracting them from the quickly warming beers clutched to their breasts. 

Swimming through the crowd we took root towards the front left of the stage, resolving to observe Rhythm Section brain Bradley Zero finish his set with solemn fixation. Beautiful Middle Eastern and North African disco pumped cleanly through the stacks, sultry, scale tumbling vocals twisting through the determined, detailed, euphoric melodies. Soon Red Axes unassumingly picked their way onstage whilst Bradley continued to slip records on and off the decks. The equipment sprawled over the desk blinked into life, and raising cowbells and melodicas rose as the duo tested the microphones stationed at either edge of the stage. The lights had morphed from the soothing blue into hazy crimson, bleeding through the fog which had surreptitiously filled our end of the disco shed.

The pair tweaked and tapped at their illuminated controls, and their first murmurs glowed from suggestion into sound. The dexterity with which their fingers danced over the keypads revealed a familiarity with their equipment that any well-practised musician has with their instrument, and as the sound swelled we leant forward, weight on our toes and heels aloft, trying to get an insight into how the Israeli duo were generating the misty sounds, before the excited promise of thrumming bass growled from deep beneath the stage.

Red Axes have had an amazing year. Racing from relative obscurity to become one of Tel Aviv’s most exciting musical exports, the pair exhibited a deep, instinctual understanding of their equipment and the hardware-centric dance music they rendered, delivering energetic, infectious swathes of acid-sequenced house, edged with a melancholic and sometimes menacing middle-eastern hue. Within minutes the crowd were all smiles and swaying, the keener beings writhing and bouncing towards the front left. The ceaseless hour and a half which followed built, peaked, hushed and rolled, different aspects and layers of the tracks restlessly brought to the fore, embellished with spiralling vocal loops, syncopated percussion tonks and shimmers, melodica ad-libs and the appearance of a guest vocalist. It’s a tireless workout, plastering goofy smiles across the crowd and anointing all with a faint dew.

Once the performance drew to a close the pair loped off stage bashfully acknowledging the crowds rapturous response. Bradley congratulated them and started again to play records, this time with a more decisive electronic mission statement. The crowd thinned quickly however, and few remained to dance.

Truly one of the best live electronic music acts around, the sound of Red Axes is kinetic, detailed,and intense, and the pair clearly have a solid and deep understanding of how to exercise their equipment and create an engaging live show. It’s like watching Jeff Mills or Shackleton but not as serious and more fun in spades.

Follow Red Axes on Facebook HERE