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Robin Taylor - 2006 - "Deutsche Schule"

(45 min, 'MOB')

TRACK LIST:                    

1.  Misch Musch 5:18
2.  Eisenbahn mit Souerkraut 4:26
3.  Karl spielt Klavier 5:12
4.  Noch ein Zahnartzt 6:21
5.  Neue Stimmen 8:26
6.  Gesang der Touben 6:01
7.  Das Experiment 9:15


Robin Taylor - keyboards, guitars; percussion
Karsten Vogel - saxophones
Louise Nipper - vocals
Rasmus Grossell - drums 

Prolusion. Danish multi-instrumentalist and composer Robin TAYLOR is decidedly the most prolific artist on the contemporary progressive scene. "Deutsche Schule!" is his tenth solo effort and also the 21st album in his general discography (which includes those by Taylor's Universe and Taylor's Free Universe), 13 of them having been released in the new century, i.e. during the last five-and-a-half years. Furthermore, the new Taylor's Universe CD "Certain Undiscoveries" will be in the shops in a month or so. >Here is the only place on the Internet where the musician's biography can be read, as well as the history of both of his 'universal' ensembles.

Analysis. "Deutsche Schule!" is surprisingly rich in vocalizations (courtesy of Louise Nipper as usual), all appearing to be a truly essential part of the music. Only two of the seven pieces are purely instrumental - those taking the opposite positions in the track list. Misch Musch, which opens the recording, is a piano-, accordion- and sax-laden tune and is totally intelligible (almost instantly accessible for me) despite the fact that stylistically, this is a sort of extremely multi-layered cocktail embracing minimalist, electronic, Euro-folk, jazz, symphonic and psychedelic influences, the general approach being definitely experimental. Eisenbahn mit Sauerkraut can easily be viewed as further variations on the matter laid down by its predecessor, just being adorned with vocalizations and revealing Chinese ethnic intonations within its 'personal' folk component. The dramatically pronounced Karl spielt Klavier is slow throughout, but is far from being monotonous and is quite picturesque in addition. The introductory theme finds Louise singing exclusively to piano. Soon however, the instrumental storyline becomes gradually surrounded by variations on it provided by other piano parts along with those of synthesizer and sampled cello, et cetera. In other words, the events develop much in accordance with the laws of Minimalist music. There is also Robin's narrative in German (delivered in a truly artistic way), and such is present on the next track as well, although musically there is little in common between them. Noch ein Zahnartzt and Gesang der Touben are similar and are in many ways remarkable, both standing out for kind of playful interactions between improvised solos of saxophone and those composed of piano and synthesizer, as well as for their lushly saturated vocal palette, some of the phrasings containing a lyrical plot (which is clear to me even though I don't understand German). Generally, Louise appears to be a true embellishment of this recording, and I regret her contribution to Robin's other albums was never as wide as in this particular case (which can hardly be imputed to her personally, I think). The remaining two pieces, Neue Stimmen and Das Experiment are the longest and, at the same time, the most diverse, full of various progressive virtues, both featuring a real drummer unlike the others. The organ-, sax- and bass-driven Neue Stimmen is brilliant to my ears, and it's breathtaking to follow the flight of Karsten Vogel's imagination here. There are some orientally-inflected tunes, and also those with a tendency towards atmospheric Space Fusion, but most of the composition is a dynamic, labyrinthine darkly-mysterious Art-Rock with an unmistakably '70s sound. Fans of "Pawn Hearts" by Van Der Graaf Generator are surely condemned to fall in love with this composition. The only piece finding Robin applying an electric guitar, Das Experiment, is the most unique, being designed in a way to create a striking, mind-blowing contrast between two opposite substances. The music is the alternation of extremely fast and intense, highly eclectic arrangements with a powerful full-band sound and silent sonic textures related to space music. The former are just irresistible, and I'd much rather these had extended to two thirds of the piece, and not otherwise - as is the reality on the CD.

Conclusion. Despite the example cited above, it would be absolutely pointless to search for direct (if not just any) traces of anyone's influences in the creations of Mr. Taylor. A strong advocate of independent compositional thinking, Robin successfully continues moving far away from beaten musical roads on his new album too, the number of innovations having grown again. While not a masterpiece, "Deutsche Schule!" is an excellent album, at least compositionally. Which only means to say I didn't rate it correspondingly because Rasmus Grossell (who is an incredibly masterful and versatile drummer) is featured only on two tracks.

VM: September 8, 2006

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>Robin Taylor


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