Review Summary: A late 60's landmark mixing many instruments and genres into a just-about masterpiece.
Revolutions in music happen all the time. Obviously, the full effect of any given time period can be felt for months or decades. The 1960’s were one of those decades that expanded and shaped music for many, many years to come. The world over has been singing the praises of that deeply unique cultural epoch.
falls right in thick of all of it. He had been part of music for a good while before he released his own music for the first time in 1968 with Song of Innocence
. The following year, he released Songs of Experience
. Both albums were inspired by the poems and art of William Blake. Falling right in line, Axelrod’s music became an enigmatic art itself. Songs of Experience comes rife with varied arrangements, a litany of instruments, and a good dose of genre mixing.
Though often filed under jazz in record stores, the occasion for this is merely because that is the best place to put it. Drawing on the psychedelic and experimental tendencies of the time, Axelrod created a diverse and engaging piece of music. Although the beginning of the lead track, “The Poison Tree”, will have you believe this is just a good-time 60’s rock album, you will find anything but such a thing. Orchestral arrangements, folk guitar, jazz drumming, organs and pianos, horns; it’s literally an ensemble, and a daring one at that.
Easily the best back-to-back combination on the album is “The Human Abstract” followed by “The Fly”. The two songs serve as a microcosm of the album, being amalgamations of the best the record has to offer. They bridge the whimsical passages with the flowing orchestral arrangements and the funk grooves with the classic rock vibes.
Yet, after all of this, the album ends with a very different idea than all of the tracks before it. Kind of like creepy noise-jazz meets breakbeat, it simply serves as a reminder of the range of sounds to experience. The album is called Songs of Experience
, which is from the title of William Blake’s work itself. But those three words couldn’t be much more fitting for the kind of work and energy you will hear within eight songs. All of modest length, it is still an easy listen and an important predecessor to genre melding.
From smooth to bulky, Songs of Experience
is an enchanting listen. It should be difficult to not find something to like in experimental psychedelic classical funk jazz rock, etc. You get the idea.