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Axis - Axis CD (album) cover

AXIS

Axis

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.66 | 25 ratings

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ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Similarly to their better-known countrymen, Aphrodite's Child, Axis were a Greek outfit, who moved to France, because of the right-wing regime in their motherland. The band was formed in 1970 by multiinstrumentalists Dimitris Katakouzinous and Demis Visvikis. In 1971, they released their debut album Ela Ela, which featured their take on a Greek folk standard of the same title. The work was heavily inspired by the contemporary psychedelic pop. 1972 marked the release of their self-titled album. One year later, Axis released another album by the name Axis, which was radically different than all their previous efforts, only to break up soon after.

The style of Axis' swansong shows strong influence of Canterbury scene bands such as Soft Machine, Egg, and Matching Mole, jazz-rock of Nucleus, Mahavishnu Orchestra or Keith Jarrett, free jazz of Sun Ra and Ornette Coleman, hard rock reminiscent of Uriah Heep and Free, and progressive rock of acts such as King Crimson. There are also some electronic parts that seem to owe a great deal to Can, Tangerine Dream, and Klaus Schulze. So far, so good, right? The elements of the previously mentioned groups seem to work especially well, creating an unclassifiable musical extract. The band's sound is characterized by rich instrumental layers, professional musicianship, and exceptionally clever detailing.

The instrumental abilities of Axis' members really deserve a mention. Demis Visvikis's keyboards play a crucial role in the band's sound. He goes from Thelonious Monk-inspired jazz on grand piano, to bulldozer-like fuzz organ, very much in the vein of Dave Stewart, to ambient Mellotron parts. Chris Stassinopoulos' guitar playing is versatile as well. He finds himself comfortable playing heavy rhythm guitar riffs and jazz guitar solos alike. These are supported by a very competent rhythm section of Dimitris Katakouzinos on bass, who is capable of phenomenal grooves and George Hadjiathanassiou on drums, who keeps up very well with the band's dynamic style.

There are ten tracks on Axis and I could easily say that every single one has its own distinct style. There is, however, a sort of inexplicable link between them that makes them sound alike and prevents the release from sounding inconsistent for that matter. The pieces go from hard rock-fueled 'Waiting A Long Time', to the ambient 'Sewers Down Inside', to free jazz-inspired 'Asymphonia', to majestic, liturgical 'Pa Vu Ga Di'. In short, the band makes great use of their record time, not limiting themselves to only one style.

Throughout its four-year career, Axis managed to release three albums. Their self-titled work from 1973 is their last and definitely their most accomplished effort. Its main characteristics are enormous eclecticism and near-to-flawless musicianship. With such a wide plethora of influences, it perhaps is not very innovative, but entertaining throughout and well-worth your time. Highly recommended for fans of obscure progressive rock and Canterbury scene!

ALotOfBottle | 4/5 |

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