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AXIS

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Greece


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Axis biography
Axis was formed in 1970 by Dimitris KATAKOUZINOS and Demis VISVIKIS, after they had hooked up as members of the backing band for Demis ROUSSOS (APHRODITE'S CHILD). They released three albums between 1971 and 1973. Their third album (their second self-titled album) brings the most interest to this site, as it is a mixture of heavy prog, canturbury jazz-rock, and pure fusion.

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AXIS discography


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AXIS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.26 | 16 ratings
Ela Ela
1971
3.79 | 14 ratings
Axis
1971
3.78 | 43 ratings
Axis
1973

AXIS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

AXIS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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AXIS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Axis by AXIS album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.78 | 43 ratings

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Axis
Axis Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 4.5 stars. Man if I was from Greece there would be three albums that I would hold up with pride as the most monumental recordings from that nation. This third and final studio album from AXIS along with APHRODITE'S CHILD's "666" and PLJ BAND's "Armageddon. Three absolutely adventerous and intriguing albums right there. They all fascinate me in different ways. This final record from AXIS is a major change from the two albums before it and why this band is listed under Jazz/Fusion here. The first two had a 60's vibe with lots of vocals and they played in a psychedelic style that was at times poppy and at other times folky. The first two records shared six tracks. Then the band grew up! I mean they graduated with honours. This is not for the faint of heart, talk about an about face. We get some avant jazz, free jazz and experimental tunes, but also melodic stuff like the hard rocking opener that could have been a single and those Canterbury moments mostly with that fuzzed out organ that brings HATFIELD AND THE NORTH to mind.

Two lineup changes as the guitarist leaves and is not replaced. None is credited in the liner notes but I think I hear it but maybe it's the keyboards. They add a second drummer and I don't know if that's because there were two recording sessions in 1973, one in April where they did 6 tracks including "Pa Vu Ga Di" at a German Evangelical church which consists mostly of vocals and church organ. Then four tracks in June which are actually the first four songs off this album. The bass player was also replaced. The keyboardist adds mellotron this time and the electric piano is really good. SpaceFreak from another site who is from Greece mentions that Chris one of the drummers here(not the guitarist) bought Christian Vander's drum set that he had used on MAGMA's debut. Chris would go on to drum for CLEARLIGHT, Francis Moze and ZAO although he never recorded with the latter.

That opener "Waiting A Long Time" is just a hard rocking tune with a chorus that softens to great affect. The second instrumental break is out of left field as they turn to an avant Jazz style and check out that piano. "Sewers Down Inside" is dark with faint sounds to start and it stays sparse really with some brief outbreaks before the intro returns around 3 minutes in. Then suddenly a full sound before 4 minutes. Another surprise is that it settles with vocals, mellotron and beats before 5 minutes. I like the bass on "Materializing The Unlimited" and there's an electronic quality to this track as sounds cycle and swirl until 2 1/2 minutes in when distortion and drums take over. A relentless attack to the end.

"Asymphonia" I and II which are tracks 4 and 7 are Free Jazz with what sounds like double bass, piano and drums and this is avant later on. Love the electric piano on "Suspended Precipice". "Roads" along with the opener and closer are my top three. A definite Canterbury vibe here with the keyboards. Distortion! Jazzy drums and bass. More of this Canterbury flavour on the closer "The Planet Vavoura". I want to mention "Dancing Percussion" as well which starts off haunting with experimental sounds as voices cry out in the distance. Floating organ and dancing percussions follow.

A bit shocking to hear this after spending a lot of time with their debut "Ela Ela". I mean it doesn't sound like the same band at all. Out of the park!

 Ela Ela by AXIS album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.26 | 16 ratings

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Ela Ela
Axis Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars. AXIS were a four piece band from Greece but they were able to move to France in order to have some actual freedom musically and in life. Two of the members(bass/ keyboardist) are the lead singers while the other two add harmonies and backing vocals. The two main singers were part of the APHRODITE'S CHILD backing band which came as no surprise as there is a connection between the sound of these two bands musically. In 1972 this was released in Germany, Canada, The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and France. Interesting that The Netherlands release had a different cover and title. It's called "Someone". The Spain release covers all the bases as they called it "Someone/ Ela Ela/ Osanna". The only cd release is from 2013 and they take The Netherland's cover and title but on the spine of the cd it has "Someone/ Ela Ela".

The nine songs range from 3 minutes to 5 1/2 minutes and there is a strong 60's flavour to the music both vocally and instrumentally. Kind of a Folk/ Psychedelic style that is often commercial sounding. The thing is that this is clearly a talented band and they hit some real highs here but I find it inconsistent. Still I found this tough to rate because I like a lot of this and it really ends well with the two longest tunes ending the album. The vocals are a strong point and both lead singers while different from each other they are outstanding. "Osanna" isn't really the best way to start this, it's so commercial sounding and I was sick of hearing it pretty quickly with vocals dominating the sound.

How about the vocals on "Living In" which have so much character and the electric guitar and organ standout. I like those two tracks in the middle "Nothing To Say" and "Long Time Ago". The latter is a psychedelic beauty and a top three. Favourite is "Thought" for the vocals and organ which surprisingly bring SBB's keyboardist to mind when he's ripping it up on the organ and singing. The closer is very good too called "Bad Trip". The crazy thing about this one is the harpsichord. I don't think I've heard that instrument played with such passion before. Just a great sounding tune.

I like the sound of the electric guitar throughout and we get quite a bit of acoustic guitar as well. I would recommend this to anyone to at least check out.

 Axis by AXIS album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.78 | 43 ratings

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Axis
Axis Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by 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!

 Axis by AXIS album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.78 | 43 ratings

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Axis
Axis Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A strangely disjointed mixture of hard rock, psychedelia and jazz fusion, this self-titled 1973 album was actually the Greek group's third overall, and the second to be named after the group. Although not too much is known about Axis, we do know that they were one of a number of Greek groups who moved to France sometime during the early 1970s, hoping to join up with the vibrant French music scene and hopefully win themselves a recording contract, though ultimately they failed to find true commercial success. Led by keyboardist-and-vocalist Demis Visvikis and also featuring Alexandros Fantis(bass), Chris Stassinopoulos(guitar) and George Hadjiathanassiou(drums), Axis' third album is considered by some to be one of Greece's all-time great prog-rock albums, though by their own admittance the Greek scene wasn't exactly large. Of course, you can't really have a discussion about Greek prog without bringing up the legendary Aphrodite's Child, home to Demis Roussous and Vangelis Papathanassiou, two of Greece's biggest musical exports and, later on, international stars in their own right. Like Aphrodite's Child's career-defining double-album '666', 'Axis' contains a plethora of styles, textures and tones, skipping enthusiastically between fusion-style flourishes and Canterbury-flecked organ runs to initially bemusing effect. Subsequent listens, however, reveal a talented quartet at work, and a slightly hard-rock edge that plays nicely off the album's fusion- dominated mid-section. Occasionally, the group do wander off into strange little musical side-streets, yet for the most they manage to carve out an interesting and mainly instrumental album. It may, then, take a little time to sink in, as multiple listens are required to truly grasp what is happening, but even then one shouldn't expect any great shakes. This is a good, interesting album, yet it doesn't quite manage to serve up any real, killer melodies or stand-out tunes for a supposedly 'lost classic'. If you liked '666' you'll dig 'Axis', though the album's fragmented nature may well put some listeners off. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2015
Thanks to evolver for the artist addition.

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