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Live Review: Happy Axe brings you inside her ambient pop on 'Prayers and Mantras'

4 July 2018 | 9:03 am | Kyle Fensom

Canberra ambient-pop auteur Happy Axe announces her debut album by sharing 'Prayers & Mantras', a halcyon, dissolving track that brings you inside her music

HAPPY AXE, the ambient pop project of Canberra vocalist, producer and violinist EMMA KELLY, has unveiled her debut album Dream Punching by sharing its third single, the halcyon ‘Prayers and Mantras’.

Where previous single ‘Seven Sounds’ felt cinematic in scope, with Kelly’s melodic ideas and motifs constantly mutating around themselves, ‘Prayers and Mantras’ feels more insular and voyeuristic in its hushed intimacy. If ‘Seven Sounds’ was Happy Axe holding the listener at a third person perspective, then ‘Prayers and Mantras’ is her bringing you inside.


Of the track, Kelly says that, “‘Prayers and Mantras’ is about conflict. But it’s also about that incredible moment when you realise that something that’s haunted you for a while seems to have magically been washed away. Maybe washed away by the passage of time, or just as a result of being surrounded by beautiful people or places. It’s kind of a song that gives thanks for those things, and for being given the opportunity to move on and let go.”

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Within, Happy Axe’s music takes on the shape and spirituality of prayers and mantras, toying with ideas of palliative repetition and formlessness, showing how serenity and progress can emerge from these processes. A lilting violin line constitutes the track’s primary melody, engulfing Kelly’s whispery, operatic vocals whilst muted, lone piano notes sound off in the distance. Looped, opaque vocals and the pitter-patter of soft percussion join the fold later on as the track’s repetitive form builds and then evaporates within itself, sounding like a fading away, the slow, gradual dissolving of something that was intangibly once there but now leaves only a sense of solace in its wake.

With ‘Prayers and Mantras’, Happy Axe proves the breadth of her ambient pop vision, able to draw reservoirs of emotionality out through the repetition of little more than a haunting violin line, lone piano notes and her own voice. 

Dream Punching is out July 18th via. Spirit Level - you can pre-order it here.

IMAGE: Briana Davis