David Axelrod : Requiem: The Holocaust / Earth Rot

Political and social experiments in sound

As jazz producer, composer and friend to the sampledelic generation, David Axelrod is a revered figure in modern experimental music. These reissues indicate two different sides to the man: each display a strong social conscience as well as an insistent creative imagination, yet 1993’s ‘Requiem: The Holocaust’ is unlikely to find favour with the Mo’Wax acolytes who have adopted him.

Triggered by watching poisonous holocaust denials on television, Axelrod’s response was honest, forceful and direct, a shifting piece that combines modern classical, jazz and performance art to harsh effect. Yet while its lessons and motives are essential, it probably isn’t. 6/10

Despite its predictions of environmental collapse, 1970’s ‘Earth Rot’ is lighter. It was originally planned as a campus-only release to commemorate Earth Day, until the infamous anti-Vietnam riots at Kent State University brought American academic life to a halt. That tells you a lot about the spirit that fuels this music, a hymn to the planet merging layered, smock-wearing voices with saxophone, flute and space-age bass.

It does occasionally leave you feeling as if you should leave a message on the wholefood shop noticeboard asking if anyone wants to start a women’s group, but the fluid dynamics and open-hearted, open-minded instrumentation push it beyond historical exotica. 7/10

Victoria Segal