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(42:10, Transsubstans Records)
Prolusion. Danish composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Robin TAYLOR is one of the most prolific artists on the progressive rock scene today, and with “Isle of Black” he has issued three albums so far in 2008, the other releases being with the bands Taylor's Universe and Art Cinema. With a total discography adding up to 30 albums or thereabouts, one might wonder how long this fine artist will be able to sustain the creativity and quality that has been of such a highly consistent quality on his releases up to and including this release.
TRACK LIST: 1. Confession 6:10 2. Johannesburg 6:07 3. Swingers 4:01 4. Isle of Black 4:55 5. Mind Archeology 9:15 6. Izmit 11:05 LINEUP: Robin Taylor – guitars, bass; keyboards; percussion Rasmus Grosell – drums, percussion Karsten Vogel – saxophones Louise Nipper – voice
Analysis. Whenever I start listening to an album where Robin Taylor has been involved, I expect two things: Firstly I expect a particular sound he has established as his own, and secondly I expect to be surprised by the musical direction explored. (That is, the expected and the unexpected :-) Some elements are always present of course, but the overall style tends to be different from album to album on what I've heard so far of Taylor's various releases. The sound is there on this album as well; a warm, round atmosphere where the instruments have few harsh edges or sounds to them, and instead come across as accessible and pleasant in timbre, creating a welcoming mood and atmosphere. And still every instrument used can be heard crystal clear; the avid concentrated listener is rewarded by being able to discover all manner of minor details in the compositions. Anyone familiar with Taylor's discography will also get the usual surprise when listening through this CD. Not because there's a partially or completely new musical style explored here, but because of the number of musical styles investigated as well as the elements present on each composition that still makes these vastly different tunes come across as parts of a whole. Disharmony and dissonance are keywords in describing this release: not because these are elements dominating the compositions from start to finish, rather they are central elements in parts of each song, and it seems that Taylor on this release explores ways to utilize these elements as effects in different kinds of musical styles. The opening track Confession starts out with a couple of minutes of fragmented voices and instruments, suddenly evolving into an organ driven hard rocking song in a vein similar to Deep Purple or Uriah Heep, then mellowing out at the end and incorporating the fragmented, dissonance-tinged elements opening the piece. Johannesburg is more of an atmospheric song, with a mostly organ-dominated composition with a big soundscape presented, and here, the disharmonic elements are included a couple of minutes into the tune with a segment where the guitar is used to add this particular aspect to the track. Swingers, after a slightly weird opening, turns into a good old-fashioned jazz tune, with a 2-minute long segment in the middle given over to improvisational disharmonic playing before ending on a more melodic note. Title track Isle of Black is a groovy piece with organ as a dominating instrument and heavy prog as the basic style explored, dissolving into a fragmented dissonance-tinged song towards the end. After some initial probing with organ and guitar, Mind Archeology evolves into a composition where the sax is given a free role, while the other instruments are mostly used to create a foundation for the improvisations. In addition, this particular composition goes back and forth between mellow segments and more full-fledged rock-based parts. Final track Izmit is introduced as a bonus track on the record cover and, indeed, this is a fitting description for this composition. There are some elements with dissonance courtesy of the guitar in this song, but most of this tune is on the mellow side with a minimalist approach, thus taking on a somewhat different musical exploration than the previous tracks on this release. As usual the moods and melodies are intriguing and fascinating; some more than others, but none of them comes across as tiresome or boring. The main weakness of this CD will probably be a somewhat limited appeal, due to the eclectic nature of the album overall.
Conclusion. “Isle of Black” is another fine release from Robin Taylor. Fans of experimental rock in general and Robin Taylor's works in particular should find this album very interesting.
OMB: November 4, 2008