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Ways Of Seeing Kareem Ghezawi , July 5th, 2019 09:23

Ways of Seeing, the new album by Konx-Om-Pax offers mellow cuts, bubbling synths, and – most of all – vision, finds Kareem Ghezawi

In the original 1907 publication of Konx-Om-Pax, British occultist Aleister Crowley attempts to discern the nature of the transmundane through a series of esoteric allegories and enigmatic mystical rites. To some he was a spiritual snake oil merchant, while to others he was nothing less than a prophet. One thing for certain is that his personality, life, and works have been a major source of inspiration to artists and leftfield oddballs ever since.

In that sense, Tom Scholefield shares common ground with the great beast whose work he has named himself after. Because like him, Konx, and his peers on Planet Mu and Hyperdub, are interpreters of the generation’s collective consciousness, it’s ugliness, as well as its beauty. In Ways of Seeing, Konx allows himself to be fully guided by his empathic intuition for the first time and the result is a record which reveals promisingly hopeful patterns in the void.

He doesn’t give attention to the oversized neon arrows pointing toward apocalypse, nor does he create the trepidation-fuelled industrial techno that has become so in-vogue as of late. Instead he opens a window to our ideal inner life, a space, innocent and unplagued by earthly attachment, and lets that fresh breeze overcome the stench of socio-political rot lingering in the background. He creates a catalyst to overcome negative thinking. A medicine for the drudge of routine. Sweet, but never to the point of being sickly.

He has channelled this positivity into uplifting rhythms and wholesome melodies saturated with everything from dewy-eyed wonder, to indulgent self-empowerment. As an album, Ways of Seeing wastes no time in lassoing you in and drawing you into its bubble of zen from the very beginning, with the infectious subdued hip-hop nostalgia of opener ‘LA Melody’. Unlike his more niche, IDM inspired debut Regional Surrealism, created in concrete isolation in Glasgow, or the beat-less sonic collage of Caramel, Ways of Seeing was made surrounded by friends, sunshine and optimism, and you can certainly feel that in it.

It is a refreshingly inclusive, all-encompassing journey through the highs and lows of electronic music that brings multiple sounds from multiple cities together. Particularly the techno heritage of his adopted home of Berlin. From the tropical fluorescent bounce of ‘Salule Acid’ featuring Silvia Kastel to the Orbital-esque feel-good chimes and samples of ‘I’m for Real’ featuring Nightwave, the record maintains a buoyant buzz throughout, Konx outwardly rejecting any opportunity for pessimism to sneak in and drag the vibe down to the depths of his previous work.

Halfway through Ways of Seeing, in ‘Optimism over Despair’, Konx creates an anthem to every human being’s innate journey for self-importance and meaning. It is a reminder that the deep-seated ache from the march up the temple steps will eventually transform into the unbridled pleasure of the panoramic view from the peak of its ziggurat. No pleasure without pain. No enlightenment without suffering. It’s an inspiring and empowering trance-influenced odyssey that with a certain amount of MDMA could easily result in a grinding climax of rolling wet eyeballs.

‘Paris 5am’ is a mellow cut that feels an early morning out-of-body drift through burnt-out post comedown dopamine starved minds. Muted voltage struggling to spark connections between them. ‘Missing Something’ has the feel-good chirpiness and tempo of classic There is Love In You-era Four Tet, and the bubbling synths and brightly glowing tones of ‘Rez’ feels like light pouring into an empty vessel.

That is what Ways of Seeing is all about. Light. The ability for it to illuminate the places we fear to tread and grant us vision. To surge life into flatlining spirits. Or to feed the malnourished soul. Ways of Seeing is a pure, unpretentious offering radiating optimism in an increasingly dark landscape.