Recently, when Archive found that they had five tracks that did not fit on their most recent album they decided that the best thing to do was to make these five tracks, forty minutes in total into a short film with the help of Spanish film collective NYSU and director Jesus Hernandez.
I’ve liked Archive’s music for a very long time and so I was intrigued and excited about this new project. Axiom is the portrait of a city, a dystopian island commune to be precise. It feels a little like a cross between Brave New World and Jonestown in concept. The citizens are locked away in cells to avoid the sound of the bell that keeps the city alive. Despite being essentially an extended music video Axiom does have dialogue and a plot, although the latter is very convoluted. It’s very atmospheric, although I don’t recommend it for the squeamish – some sequences can only be described as gratuitous and deeply disturbing.
I’m not sure the endeavour is a great success. The film is presented in Black and White, but both ends of the spectrum are absent, as if someone equalised it out to the blandest greyscale you can imagine. It’s an odd tension because the plot seems to distract from the visuals and vice-versa but neither are that great. Generally speaking Axiom takes a lot of mediocre filmic ideas and combines them into something that is more odd than profound. It does stay in the mind, if only for the themes of oppression and control that are expressed so vividly.
Structurally the film follows the song progression and divides itself into chapters, this works to an extent. Chapter one is more of a prologue than anything else but that can be forgiven. Chapter three however, seems to be entirely devoid of any link to the rest of the film. The visual ideas don’t link back to any other point in the film and it has no clear context in the world that has been created. It does serve to be very, very creepy, but the tyranny of a madman that was established in chapter two had already done that. It’s hard to say whether the problem lies in the track being too far removed from the others or with the director for not properly integrating the concept, either way it serves as a microcosm for the film. Powerful, creepy and odd but clumsily realised and by no means an artistic revolution.
- Entertainment: 3/5
- Artistic: 3/5
- Intellectual: 2/5