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Track List: 1. Germanism 7:11 (Taylor) 2. Stand Apart 0:12 (TFU) 3. Free-Bop 5:38 (Vogel) 4. More Germanism 4:22 (Taylor) 5. Age Concern 5:40 (Taylor, Segerberg, Mathiesen) 6. Less Is More 9:34 (Tassone, Taylor) 7. Evaluation 5:33 (TFU) 8. Aspects of a Myth 11:44 (Vogel) 9. Bonus Tragg 0:05 (Taylor) All arrangements: by Taylor's Free Universe. Line-up: Robin Taylor - electric guitar; electronics (+ fuzz-bass on tracks 1 & 4, keyboards: on 1, & percussion: on 5) Karsten Vogel - soprano, alto, & tenor saxophones (+ keyboards: on 8) Pierre Tassone - violin (via sound processor) Johan Segerberg - double bass; electronics Kalle Mathiesen - drums; sampling Produced by Robin Taylor. Engineered by Louise Nipper & Robin Taylor at "Soundscape" studio, Copenhagen, Denmark. Mastered by Jan Eliasson at "Tocano".
Prologue. To all appearances, "File Under Extreme" is the debut album by the internationally Danish band Taylor's Free Universe, in the line-up of which I see the name of Pierre Tassone. If you wish to read the review of Pierre's collaborative album with the Latvian violin quartet Difference, click >here.
The Album. I haven't reviewed the works of Progressive's Fifth Element genre for quite a while, so the arrival of the "File Under Extreme" CD just before my birthday I regard as a good sign. ("File Under Fifth Element" could've been also an appropriate title for this album.) A very unusual, yet, truly unique blend of all five of the traditionally classic genres and sub-genres of Prog: Jazz-Fusion, Art-Rock, RIO, Prog-Metal, & Space Rock, raised to the power of Avant-garde Academic Music, along with something absolutely new, is what the music on this album is about overall. Though it must be said that all the elements of these classic genres and sub-genres of Prog are actually featureless in the music of Taylor's Free Universe. Here, they're really free of their classic constituents, so the terms that I used when describing the stylistics of this album in detail should be perceived only relatively. Yes-yes, such a polymorphous and highly innovative style that lies in the basis of music presented on "File Under Extreme" must be defined as nothing else but Fifth Element. There are no any repetitions on the album, and all the musical structures of it are very, yet, positively unstable. Then, back to the classic terms, the following detailed definition of Taylor's Free Universe's music would be the best, in my view. This is a fusion of Avant-garde Academic Music and Free Jazz with elements of all five of the aforementioned Progressive Rock genres and sub-genres. Certainly, both of the bits that are presented in the track list of this CD as separate pieces: Stand Apart and Bonus Tragg (tracks 2 & 9), should be regarded just as an intro to Free-Bop (3) and the outro of the album respectively. The first of them consists of only a couple of riffs of electric & bass guitars done along with a couple of beats of drums. The last track on the album, "composed" by Tailor, features naturally only one riff of guitar with an echo. Well, in comparison with "voices of a void" (long pauses) that came into fashion in the second half of the 1990s, such funs are quite acceptable, especially since they're just a smallest part of a gem titled "File Under Extreme". The arrangements that Germanism, More Germanism, Less Is More, and Aspects of a Myth (1, 4, 6, & 8) consist of are for the most part slow, yet, at the same time incredibly diverse and wonderfully eclectic. The number of highly eclectic improvisational jams is there small in comparison with those on Age Concern, Evaluation, and Free-Bop (tracks 5, 7, & 3 respectively). Certainly, all three of these pieces, and especially Free-Bop, appear less structured than any other composition on the album. Both Age Concern and Evaluation consist of various, slow and fast, arrangements. While Free-Bop, in its entirety is covered by a really wild jam where, with the exception of 'lazy' solos and riffs of electric guitar, all the soloing parts are fast and frantic. Here, the band literally erases the border between Avant-garde Jazz, Avant-garde Academic Music, and Classic Progressive Rock, pushing all of it on and on and, finally, transforming all of it into a highly innovative, eclectic, and intensive improvisational jam. It must be said that the solos and riffs of electric guitar, unlike those of all the other instruments, are almost always slow on "File Under Extreme". Not as evident as those of saxophones, violin, and double bass, the parts of electric guitar are, however, the most unique on this album, even though they play a really prominent role only on Age Concern (5). I have never heard such an unusual and clearly innovative method of playing a guitar. Quite the contrary, the drumming is highly intensive and, often, powerful and fast even in those pieces that are basically slow. Along with uniqueness and eclecticism, effective contrasts are one of the key aspects (or trumps, if you will) of this album. I wouldn't say that there are some traditionally familiar moods on "File Under Extreme", yet, an overall atmosphere of the album is either tense or rather dark. All of this is quite typical for RIO, but I doubt that someone would be able to find here at least only one episode that would be at least more or less obviously about RIO and any of the other classic progressive genres as well.
Summary. Despite the fact that the musical structures of this album are very unstable and, sometimes, completely unstructured and even chaotic (they're mostly just seemingly chaotic, though), there are lots of classically essential progressive ingredients on "File Under Extreme". In fact, the continuous development of anything that is featured on this remarkable album is the main and the most exciting characteristic of it. Nevertheless, I can highly recommend this album only to those lovers of progressive music who are both very mature and adventurous.
VM. October 26, 2002
TFU on CD-Baby:
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