Axiom (record label)

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Axiom was a record label founded by musician Bill Laswell in 1989, with the support of Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records. Axiom was an independent subdivision of Blackwell's Island Records, with Laswell being afforded a budget for a certain number of albums each year, basically of his own choosing. The freedom Blackwell gave Laswell gave rise to a number of studio albums and field recordings that otherwise would likely not have been made within the confines of a normal major label structure.

In 1989, Chris Blackwell sold Island Records to PolyGram, which, in 2000, became a subsidiary of the Universal Music Group—with Blackwell staying on as CEO. In 1997, Blackwell resigned from PolyGram after struggling with what he saw as restrictive oversight of his management. Axiom was (at that moment) shuttered as well, with most of the catalog falling out of print since then. When Blackwell started up his new venture, Palm Pictures, Laswell and the Axiom imprint were once again reactivated. Unfortunately, Palm since scaled back its involvement in the recorded-music field, effectively making Axiom dormant once again. A rumored play to buy the Axiom catalog from Universal Music also fizzled.

Under Island's aegis, Axiom released Sonny Sharrock's Ask the Ages and Henry Threadgill's Too Much Sugar for a Dime, as well as records by Laswell projects such as Praxis and Material. A series of stellar world-music titles were also released by Axiom, including Simon Shaheen's tribute to Mohammed Abdel Wahab, Shankar's Soul Searcher and pristine field recordings of Gnawa musicians in Morocco, Mandinka & Fulani Music in the Gambia and the famed Master Musicians of Jajouka in the Rif Mountains of Morocco. The major-label backing that Blackwell gave allowed Laswell to trek to these far out regions with modern equipment and make what are arguably the most pristine recordings of these ancient musics to date in their home environments.

After moving to Palm Pictures, Axiom released only a handful of albums, notably by Material and the group Tabla Beat Science, which included Zakir Hussain, Ustad Sultan Khan, Bill Laswell, Karsh Kale, and others.

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