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Robin Taylor (Denmark) - 2004 - "X Position"
TRACK LIST: 1. Black Country Ruffle 7:58 2. Hi Life! 5:05 3. Don't Drink & Drive 1:52 4. Baroque Ideas 3:53 5. Bill Knudsen 1:50 6. Ether Spirit 8:54 7. City Life 8:23 8. Lass Mich Los 12:22 All tracks: by Taylor. Produced by Taylor. Engineered by Taylor & Louise. LINE-UP: Robin Taylor - guitars & other instruments Karsten Vogel - saxophone Pierre Tassone - violin Johan Segerberg - bass Jan Marsfeldt - keyboards Mads Hansen - drums With: Kalle Mathiesen - drums (7, 8) Louise Nipper - voice (1, 4) Jan Fischer - voice (1)
Prolusion. "X Position" is the sixteenth album in the overall discography of the remarkable Danish composer and musician Robin TAYLOR. It's made up of the tracks that Robin composed in different years, from 1991 to 2004, within the framework of his solo creation, and also for Taylor's Universe and Taylor's Free Universe. All of them were unavailable until now.
Analysis. These archival recordings sound surprisingly fresh, as if they were created just recently, and generally, the material was arranged extremely well. The prevalence of composed and semi-composed parts over improvisations, the structural specificity of the selected tracks, and also the presence of saxophonist Karsten Vogel on nearly all of them, makes the entire set sound like Taylor's Universe rather than Robin Taylor-solo, not to mention Taylor's Free Universe whose works are highly abstruse. Besides, "X Position" can be perceived like a continuation of the brilliant "Once Again", released just a few months ago, and even its stylistic diversity speaks well of their resemblance. In any case, I like this compilation of unreleased tracks better than some full-fledged outings by the maestro. This is a very tasty cocktail of varied fruits from Robin's musical garden, which is located far from the beaten paths and, thus, has a fresh breath without using Orbit:-) nor any other alien, modified products. As ever, the music is free of any affectation. Robin's original thinking is striking even on the pronouncedly melodic compositions with familiar, easily perceptible and determinable textures. Baroque Ideas and Bill Knudsen follow each other right in the middle of the album, both being performed without the rhythm section. The former presents the well thought-out orchestral arrangements with piano and strings at the helm, which is Classical music as its title implies. The latter combines natural symphonic and jazzy fabrics with electronics and some female vocalization. The other compositions abound in those infrequent fifth-elementary particles that give a clearly innovative feel to any music regardless of what it's about substantially. The first three tracks are kindred compositions, as well as those three below the album's equatorial music points. Each with a unique combination of Jazz-Fusion and Art-Rock in its basis, intricate and beautiful simultaneously, Black Country Ruffle, Don't Drink & Drive and Hi Life would've been just on the right place on "Once Again" if Robin & Co had the intention to extend that album's contents. The first two are rhythmically pronounced and are mostly intensive, with complex, yet, totally cohesive interactions between solos of guitar, piano and saxophone and contrasting, powerful and rapid, pulsations of the rhythm section. The dedication to a newborn baby, Hi Life has no drums. It is filled with passages of acoustic guitar, has more symphonic colors in its palette, and features baby talk. The three long compositions standing at the track list's lower part are most eclectic. The Avant-garde, free Jazz and RIO-like arrangements with slowly moving and as if frozen plasma of solos as a background and many surrealistic sonic landscapes in general are widespread on each of them: Either Spirit, City Life and Lass Mich Los. The former, however, sounds heavy in places (really heavy) and is a winner in my honest opinion. Robin excellently plays guitar riffs, and if he would have used them frequently, and not episodically, his extremely complex music would've been much more attractive and, hence, more quickly comprehensible. Avant-garde and Prog-Metal aren't incompatible genres. Furthermore, their confluence often gives excellent results, and Either Spirit is just another establishment of the reality of that phenomenon.
Conclusion. From May 2003 to July 2004, the most prolific contemporary ProgFessor Robin Taylor and his universal colleagues released four excellent albums, one of which is a double CD in addition. Here is another one, and while this is not a 'newly-fledged' recording, it is full-fledged, and many would've been proud of having such a strong compilation of unreleased materials as "X Position". By reading the latest issues of the leading Prog magazines, I've noted that the attitude towards this unique musical formation has changed, and their creation has become at least critically acclaimed. It is your turn now, dear music lovers.
VM: November 15, 2004
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