Formed in 2001 by Los Angeles based artist Brandon Smith, The Anix was initially a band-orientated project playing live shows up and down LA before their debut album “Demolition City” dropped in 2008…this led to a stint on CLEOPATRA Records and several more albums, but they remained relatively underground to the wider audience. Now in 2018, The Anix is signed to FiXT as a one-man project in which Brandon himself takes the role of composer, producer and mixer and he’s recently released album number six; “Shadow_Movement”, his FiXT roster debut…let’s see if it takes him out of those shadows and into the spotlight.
The album opens up with “Race To Nowhere” which sets us up with the albums concepts of a dystopian cyberpunk universe…a glorified intro piece, the lyrics simply repeat “Out in the end, racing to nowhere I’m gonna crash through” over futuristic, ambient techno and it does the job of setting the listener up for a journey, serving no purpose other than basically providing deus ex machina for the records overall concept. First track-proper “Fight The Future” however gets going then with a sultry dose of dark synth pop and deep electronica…it’s quite methodical and quite cold, with the majority of Brandon’s vocals delivered in a hushed manner aside from the chorus which provides more melody. In ways it’s easy to see why Klayton signed The Anix as this sounds incredibly similar to something Scandroid would put out…I won’t lie at first I thought it WAS Klayton on vocals for this too!
Over the rest of the albums 15 tracks what becomes apparent is that this is an album of two halves, with the first half providing much better results and lead single “This Machine” being a particular highlight. Much more up-tempo it initially takes on an almost EISBRECHER-inspired tone, before it marches on with an infectious, percussion led dose of electro-rock, spitting out all of the hooks. Incredibly rhythmic, this machine is well oiled and fires on all cylinders, great stuff this. “Come Back Down” goes down a similar path but is generally softer, though loses none of its rhythm or groove, opting for pop-based production qualities, it’s really rather catchy. “Interchanger” and “Overdrive” again go for the easy-listening retro-pop vibe and the similarities to label-mate Scandroid are prominent once more, but that’s not detrimental, while “Open Fire” has subtle touches of electronic icons DEPECHE MODE with its deep fuzzy synths and general tempo; it’s for the most part deeper and you can’t help but want to hear what Dave Gahan would do with this.
The second half of the album however sadly tapers off and you can’t help but debate that age old conundrum of quantity vs quality. With a handful of tracks resorting to no more than instrumental pieces, such as “Clouds” and closing track “Strategy X” being so short compared to the rest of the track list, it makes you wonder if they really NEED to be there at all. The former is just filler, all grey and overcast, allowing no light, while the latter is less strategy x, more strategy exit; swiftly evacuate my eardrums please, you serve me no purpose or enjoyment. Other tracks like “Ghost” disappoint too with its low-fi trance tones and repetition, asking are YOU a ghost? I don’t know let me go ask Scooby-Doo…that’s how seriously I take this track, while “Pendulum” just makes me wish I was in fact listening to PENDULUM, which would be much better. Overall while not perfect per se, it’s nice to see a fresh face on the FiXT roster, as variety is the spice of life after all. Granted a lot of this does already sound a lot like Scandroid at times like I’ve already said, but it is Brandon’s debut on this label and maybe he’s just trying to fit in while still doing his own thing, I mean, an annex itself is something only a LITTLE different after all.