Appeared in More Sugar, June 2010
CD review by Roger-Z (05/12/10)
I love it when a band stretches me. The Axis Trio pulls my ears about a mile apart. My head will never look the same! The group pulls off something increasingly rare in the music world. They've produced something new and unique -- a combination of jazz, folk, chamber, rock, and music from their native Morocco, Iran, and Pakistan. "Anthem," originally titled "Leap Toward Immortality," consists of eleven tunes all composed by keyboardist Amino Belyamani. Sam Minaie (bass, cello) and Qasim Naqvi (drums, toys) round out the rest of the band. All three members contribute to the arranging.
The Axis Trio first came together at a school recital at the California Institute of the Arts. They had to pull an all-nighter to prepare for the show. Despite minimal rehearsal time, they all felt the tug of a special chemistry on the gig.
This CD takes you on a tour of the possible. Imagine if you will, "Dark Star" by the Grateful Dead. That should put you in mindset for the album opener, "When The Curd Meets The Rennet." The band slips in and out of rhythm. A romantic piano line lights the way while treated instruments insinuate like buzzing insects and scampering animals. The journey continues with "Whey It Out." Out of nowhere, the pot boils into a maelstrom of funk, taking a page form Miles' "Bitches Brew." The tick tock of "Eh-che-ka" conjures up "Return to Forever." The voodoo rhythm section pushes the mind into places normally only inhabited by the body. Opening on a repeated note, the title track morphs into a slightly dissonant, but melancholy melody. Slowly but surely, percussion gobbles it's way into the forefront only to have a solo cello re-state the theme at the end. My favorite, "...Then It Walked," sounds like Frank Zappa at his finest. Picture the 1950's horror film, "The Thing," when the creature finally appears in it's full magnificence. Dig that fuzz-tone cello solo in the middle. The album closes with the Pink Floyd pulsing of "The Hand That Feeds." Aided by a piano-driven funk, the techno beat builds to a climax and then drifts into a denouement of treated piano.
Like Frank Zappa, the Axis Trio takes you to the edge of the abyss and leaves you hanging by a thread. Only their humor keeps you from falling in. Take a trip inside your mind. You'll be surprised at what you find.