Buried on a long out of print compilation entitled Comatose-Non-Reaction: The Thwarted Pop Career of Danielle Dax lies one of the most amazing pieces of music I have ever heard. Labeled simply as "Music from the Film Axel", this eight minute lyric-less ambient piece is quite unlike anything else the brilliant, and eternally undervalued, Danielle Dax ever recorded and it is absolutely breathtaking. Sounding like a lost chapter to the great German electronic movement of the seventies, "Music from the Film Axel" is a reminder of the visionary power of Dax, one of the great figures of the Post-Punk movement.
I have been curious to see the short film Axel that Dax supplied this remarkable piece of music to since I fell in love with it well over a decade ago so I was greatly excited to see the film recently appear as an extra on the Kino/Redemption collection Visions of Ecstasy: The Films of Nigel Wingrove, a terrific collection built around Wingrove's once banned 1989 work that the collection takes its title from.
Like Dax's extraordinary soundtrack, the dreamy Axel is a hypnotic experience that defies categorization. Shot a year before the infamous Visions of Ecstasy, Axel is the first film in Wingrove's intriguing and peculiar career and was inspired by the final work of French Symbolist writer Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam. A much less-extreme work than his later films, the dialogue-free Axel stars Saskia Brandauer, Rubecca Mohamed and Sharon Robinson. While gentle and restrained aren't two words typically connected to Wingrove's filmography they are two terms that can be applied to the hypnotic Axel and Dax's droning score guides the film perfectly.
Axel is an accomplished and lovely first-film and it is one of the highlights of the Visions of Ecstasy collection, a set which also includes Wingrove's Faustine, Sacred Flesh and, of course, that infamous banned 1989 feature. Other extras include a vintage interview with Wingrove, outtakes and a featurette on Nunsploitation.
It was a pleasure finally getting to see this little film that contains one of my all-time favorite soundtracks and it reminded me how much I admire and love the work of Danielle Dax. I wish she was better-known and I wish her great back catalogue was more readily available for music-fans to discover.
-Jeremy Richey, 2013-