axiom funk - funkcronomicon

Axiom Funk: Funkcronomicon (1995)

When I was 17 I was introduced to two albums that changed my life.  Hardcore Jollies and Up For the Downstroke were two sides of a puzzle I became obsessed over ever since: the hard rock attack of Funkadelic and the buttery soul funk of Parliament.  The concept of Axiom Funk is to take those elements – and players, and songs – and update them with the dub sonic foundation of Bill Laswell.  If all those things are your jam, then I welcome you to enter the Funkcronomicon.

The rock is hard with this one, with all the players you would want involved: George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, and Bernie Worrell are all prominently featured and involved in the creative process – hell, even Sly Stone makes an appearance.  But the real thrill is in the stellar lineup of guitar players, including the last (and amazing0 recordings by Eddie Hazel before his death.  But you also get the prime rock lineup from Hardcore Jollies of Michael Hampton and Gary Shider, who again do an excellent version of “Cosmic Slop” on Funkcronomicon that may not have the ripping solos of Jollies (or even the original from Cosmic Slop) but is imbued with a slippery darkness instead.   There’s a funk psychedelic version of Hendrix’s “If 6 Was 9” that is almost worth the price of admission alone…except later there’s also a killer soul funk version of “Sex Machine” (here titled (“Sax Machine”) that is gold and just makes this even more enjoyable.

But again, it’s in the guitars where this shines.  Laswell wisely dials down some of his more dub tendencies (though they’re there) to let the guitars shine: on the near 12-minute “Orbitron Attack” featuring Hazel, the low end-romp of “Free-Bass” featuring Collins in his Zillatron guise…Buckethead even makes an appearance on “If 6 Was 9” and if that doesn’t;t tell you this is a Laswell joint then I don’t know what to tell you…

“Pray My Soul” is a superb Hazel solo in the vein of what he does on “Maggot Brain” – a lovely extended piece purely to showcase how incredible he was at extracting emotion from his instrument.  The album can run a bit long at two discs and near 90 minutes of music, but when it’s filled with heroes sounding as pure and intact as they did in the early 70s (I’ve tried and cannot get into whatever Funkadelic has become now) all the time in the world is all right with me…

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