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Robin Taylor (Denmark) - Overall View


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Preamble. Here is another Robin Taylor-related Overall View - on his solo creation. If you wish to read the Overall View on the creation of Robin's bands, Taylor's Universe & Taylor's Free Universe, click > here. Yet, there is another Robin Taylor-review on the site - of the "Special Alloy" album by Hugh Steinmetz('s Communio Musica) & Robin Taylor. It's > here.

DISCOGRAPHY (solo albums):

-1985 - "The Bandbix Tapes" - 2000 (limited edition CD: 100 copies)
-1991 - "Essay"
-1992 - "Cloze Test Terror"
-1999 - "Heart Disc"
-2000 - "Edge of Darkness"
-2001 - "Samplicity" (with Karsten Vogel)
-2003 - "November"


Robin Taylor - 1985 - "The Bandbix Tapes"
(59 min, 'Marvel of Beauty')

******+
TRACK LIST:

1. En nat pa verket 15:56
2. Jeg ved et yndigt rum 7:28
3. En jernsymfoni 10:46
4. Miljoglimt 6:36
5. Otium 6:00
6. Metropol tur retur 5:13
7. Bakkebollekoncerten 4:08
8. Orobo tjarno's farvel 3:03

All music & lyrics: by Robin Taylor.

LINE-UP:
	
Robin Taylor - 
- drums & percussion; bass, electric, nylon, & acoustic guitars; 
- string ensemble, synthesizer, & organ; flutes; vocals
Jan Fischer - 
- vocals; acoustic guitars; percussion;
- organ & string ensemble; flute
Kim Troen - 
- synthesizer & string ensemble 

Recorded from 1980 to 1985.

The Album. Well, after listening to "The Bandbix Tapes" album and comprehending it, I can assert that Robin Taylor was inclined to creating new forms of music already at the very beginning of his activity as a composer and musician. The brilliant sidelong epic that opens the album is undoubtedly the best composition here. By the way, this is the earliest work of Robin Taylor. The music on "En nat pa verket" (recorded in 1980) is incredibly original and innovative and represents one of the very first manifestations of Fifth Element, which, in this very case, is based on Symphonic Art-Rock with elements of Space Rock and the bits of Prog-Metal. This is mostly a slow, yet, highly diverse music full of mystery and magic. It features narrative and traditional vocals, the latter of which are excellent and are of a dramatic character, though purely instrumental arrangements cover no less than two thirds of it. All the words (terms, etc) that I described the album's opening track with, are completely applicable for both of the following songs on the album: "Jeg ved et yndigt rum" and "En jernsymfoni", and also "Metropol tur retur" (6), all of which are masterworks, too. Performed with all of the instruments that are listed above (see line-up), all four of the said compositions are notable for the alternation of intensive and quiet arrangements, all of which are highly profound, even though some of them are purely acoustic. Indeed, a role that the solos and passages of nylon and acoustic guitars play on this album is as significant as those of electric guitar and keyboards (synthesizers & organ). Miljoglimt, Otium, and Orobo tjarno's farvel (4, 5, & 8) were performed without the rhythm section. Musically, each of them represents a highly innovative guitar-based Space Rock with elements of Symphonic Space Rock. Miljoglimt and Otium contain a few narrative vocals, while a real singing 'is back' only on the closing track of the album, Bakkebollekoncerten (The Basketball Concerto, I think). This is the only instrumental piece on "The Bandbix Tapes". It consists exclusively of varied effects done with the use of guitar-synth, tapes, etc. In my view, the presence of this piece on the album is unnecessary. Back to the hero of this review as a whole, "The Bandbix Tapes" is undoubtedly one of the most innovative albums released in the 1980s. Furthermore, it's a true and very interesting piece of art.

VM: March 21, 2003


Robin Taylor - 1991 - "Essay"
(43 min, Pingo)

****+
TRACK LIST:

1. Prolog 1:50 
2. Zhiwago   Pigalle 5:11
3. Trilogi 3:30
4. Lone (1947-1990) 10:30
5. Gensyn 1:08
6. A Baboon Zsa Zsa 1:55
7. Otto hader Sting 1:52
8. Den blҐ salon 5:32
9. Ouverture Sommercyklesang 2:26
10. April '83 5:35
11. Epilog 3:05

All tracks: by Robin Taylor, except 
2: by Marsfeldt & Taylor.

LINE-UP:

Robin Taylor - 
- guitars, gtr-synth; keyboards; flutes; 
- accordion; percussion; voice; tapes (etc)
Jan Marsfeldt - 
- keyboards; sampled percussion

With:

Lene Lud Gak Peder - overdrive sax; voice (on 4, 5, & 11)
Jan Raeder Fischer - vocals; percussion (on 8 & 10)

Recorded mainly at Taylor's Mobile in Copenhagen.
Mixed by Marsfeldt, Taylor, & A. Nipper at Soundscape st.

The Album. As you can see above, five compositions on "Essay" are very short. Nevertheless, almost all of these sketches are very nice and are even better than some of the longer pieces on the album. Three of them consist of interplay between varied passages and solos of synthesizer, including those of synthetic string and chamber instruments, and are of a unified stylistics representing something average between Classical and Electronic music. (It must be mentioned that the elements of Electronic music are present on each track on the album.) One of the remaining short pieces features the solos of accordion and is certainly of a folksy nature, and another is about Prog-Metal. On the longer pieces, there are quite a queer blend of Latin American and spacey music, a pure 'space' music, minimalist music, Symphonic Art-Rock, a blend of Art-Rock and some old-fashioned music, and a blend of Art-Rock and Jazz-Fusion with elements of old-fashioned music. The contents of one of the tracks on "Essay" (indeed, it's a real essay) consist exclusively of sequenced solos and effects and aren't interesting at all. Well, it's clear that stylistically, "Essay" is the most inconsistent album by Robin Taylor, to say the least. And nevertheless, this is a very good album overall - at least compositionally. Also, I didn't forget that originality is one of the main trumps of any true artist...

VM: April 2, 2003


Robin Taylor - 1992 - "Cloze Test Terror"
(44 min, Kling Klang)

*****
TRACK LIST:

1. My Fake Persian Carpet 4:52
2. Hesteskolen 3:20
3. Postman's Nightmare & The Fast Ride 5:56
4. Mermaid Theatre 7:37
5. A Day In Some Kind of Life:
a) Opening Part 2:59
b) Part 2 3:05
c) Part 3 4:56
d) Part 4 3:53
e) Final Part 6:38

All tracks: by Taylor.

LINE-UP:

Robin Taylor - 
- guitars, fretless bass, & mandolele; synth-guitar;
- keyboards; electronic & acoustic percussion; taping

Jan Marsfeldt -
- keyboards

With:

Jakob Mygind - saxophone (on 3)
Jacob Christensen - bass (on 9)
Anders Schumann - drums (on 9)

Produced & recorded by Taylor at 'Taylor's Place'. 
Mixed & mastered at "Sound Scape" St., Kopenhagen.

The Album. Unlike "Essay", reviewed by me previously, "Cloze Test Terror" is an album that is quite typical for Robin Taylor's creation, which is despite the fact that musically, this album isn't uniform as well. Which, in its turn, is due to the fact that the overall stylistics of this album is diverse, and not inconsistent, as it was in the case of "Essay". "Cloze Test Terror" features nine instrumental compositions, five of which are complete masterpieces. These are the first three pieces on the album, and also both of the 'boundary' parts of A Day In Some Kind of Life (5-a & 5-e). The music on My Fake Persian Carpet (1) represents a pure Symphonic Art-Rock, which, though, is just filled with flavors of music of the East, hypnotism, and magic. Both of the latter features though, are typical for all five of the best compositions here. A highly original Symphonic Art-Rock with elements of Jazz-Fusion is presented on both of the following tracks: Hesteskolen, and Postman's Nightmare / The Fast Ride (2 & 3). The first of them was performed without any percussion instruments, while the second one, as well as the album's opening track, features the solos of congas. The music on Opening Part (5-a) represents an innovative and very impressive *Cathedral Metal with elements of a guitar-based Art-Rock. (*Starting now, I'll use this term regarding truly progressive manifestations of Doom-Metal.) Quite the contrary, Final Part (5-e) is about a guitar-based Art-Rock with elements of Doom-Metal. Part 3 and Part 4 (5-c & 5-d) are excellent compositions representing a blend of Symphonic Art-Rock and spacey music, and the first of them, in addition, is lushly orchestrated. Both of the remaining pieces: Mermaid Theatre (4) & Part 2 (5-b) consist of symphonic and spacey textures as well, but these also contain too many of the random solos, sounds, and effects that are of a chaotic rather than eclectic character. So in all, "Cloze Test Terror" is by all means an excellent album, but not a masterpiece.

VM: April 3, 2003


Robin Taylor - 1999 - "Heart Disc"
(41 min, 'Marvel of Beauty')

*****+
TRACK LIST:

1. Vatican Heartbeat 4:49
2. Cello & Hammer 6:05
3. Kizzer 3:18
4. German Foot Blues 3:21
5. Distorted Onion 1:05
6. Worm 6:04
7. Kisser 3:16
8. R.A.M.S.E.S. 1:43
9. Refit 3:35
10. Kids Stuff 3:55
11. Loophole 3:37

All tracks: by Robin Taylor.

LINE-UP:

Robin Taylor - 
- keyboards; electric, acoustic, & bass guitars; percussion;
- tapes; (+ Chinese fiddle - on 10)
Karsten Vogel - alto, tenor, & soprano0 saxophones
Hugh Steinmetz - trumpets & flugelhorn
Rasmus Grosell - drums

With:

Peter Friis Nielsen - bass
Steen Grontved - guitar
Louise Nipper - vocalize
Al Taylor - vocalize

Recorded at 'Taylor's Place' & Soundscape st., Copenhagen.
Engineered by Taylor, L. & A. Nippers.

The Album. As well as most of the other albums by Robin Taylor and Taylor's Universe, "Heart Disc" features a highly innovative music, which, at the same time, is quite typical for Robin's creation in general. As usual (which is topical only for his solo creation, though), one of the tracks here features only processed, etc sounds and solos. This is R.A.M.S.E.S. (8). Sounding as strange as a monstrous abbreviation in the title of it, this piece represents somewhat of a noisy Industrial Rock. As always, all of the other tracks on the album are either excellent compositions or complete masterworks, and the latter of them prevail here. Back to 'industrial' elements, these are present also on Distorted Onion and the album's closing piece Loophole (5 & 11), though on the whole, both of these compositions are about a unique blend of Jazz-Fusion and minimalist music with elements of Free Jazz. It must be said that the solos and improvisations of saxophones, trumpets, and flugelhorn are at the forefront of the arrangements on all of the tracks here but the aforementioned RAMSES. Of course, those familiar with the creation of such remarkable Danish musicians as Hugh Steinmetz and Karsten Vogel have certainly guessed that all the solos of the aforementioned wind instruments are here of a jazzy, improvisational nature, and the album is very rich in jazzy musical textures in general. Quite the contrary, most of the basic arrangements on the album, and these consist of the parts of electric, acoustic, and bass guitars, organ and synthesizer, are completely structured. Furthermore, while most of the solos of wind instruments are fast here, those in the basic arrangements are mostly slow, yet, just amazingly intriguing. Indeed, effective contrasts are among the central hallmarks of this album. A minimalist music is presented on "Heart Disc" the most wonderful way I've ever heard and is the main source of a positive hypnotic energy that most of the compositions on the album are very rich in. In varied combinations, Cello & Hammer, Kisser, German Foot Blues, Worm, and Refit (2, 3, 4, 6 & 9) present a confluence of guitar-based Art-Rock, Jazz-Fusion, Free Jazz, and minimalist music with elements of Symphonic Art-Rock and Avant-garde. Being just outstandingly innovative and unique, the music on the remaining three pieces: Vatican Heartbeat, Kisser, and Kids Stuff (1, 7, & 10) is just indescribable (at least in detail). Thus, these three are the entities of Fifth Element, and even though the second of them features the tunes that are familiar to our ears (those of Japanese or Chinese music), they are really evident only in the parts of vocalize. Overall, "Heart Disc" is a fantastically interesting album and is very close to the status of masterpiece.

VM: April 18, 2002


Robin Taylor - 2000 - "Edge of Darkness"
(65 min, 'Marvel of Beauty')

***+
TRACK LIST:

1. At Least One Beautiful Note 2:12
2. Nightmare Paint Mk X 5:18
3. Likewise 6:35
4. Painters In the Night 3:04
5. The Cellar 7:48
6. Even Darker 6:51
7. Now What? 0:49
8. Question Mark 2:17
9. Twilight 7:31
10. Nightmare Paint Mk Y 5:20
11. Edge of Darkness & Nightscape:
a) Edge of Darkness 11:11
b) Nightscape 5:51	

All tracks: by Robin Taylor.

LINE-UP:

Robin Taylor -
- processed guitars & basses; electronics;
- glockenspiel; percussion; taping, etc (+ organ - on 5)
Karsten Vogel - saxophone
Hugh Steinmetz - trumpet
Peter Bruun - drums & percussion

With:

Carsten Dahl - grand piano (on 8 & 11)
Jan Fischer - farfisa organ; harmonica; percussion (on 11)

Recorded at 'Taylor's Cavern' & Lodivej, Denmark.
Engineered by Taylor & L. Nipper.	

The Album. The booklet of this album features quite an exclamatory note: "No Synthesizers!" (Huh! "Lots of processed sounds!" should've been placed there instead.) However, there are no real guitars and basses on "Edge of Darkness", too. Another note in the CD booklet is running that all of the tracks on the album have been composed and arranged (by Robin Taylor, of course). In fact, only the opening track here: At Least One Beautiful Note was really and completely composed - in the vein of Jazz-Fusion. Indeed, this piece is titled more than topically, which becomes especially evident after hearing the entire album. The contents of all of the other tracks on "Edge of Darkness" represent either a blend of random 'music' and Ambient or just a random 'music'. The parts of brass instruments are present only on the four tracks here: 1, 3, 5, & 6 and those on all three of the latter of them are as chaotic as everything here and are done just a-la free jazz. Varied processed solos, most of which are just unrecognizable though, accompanied by a rambling drumming and gurgling, grunting, etc 'effects', form the sound of all of the other tracks on the album. Thus, "a totally unsuccessful experience" would probably be the lightest definition of "Edge of Darkness". Fortunately, this is the only album by Robin Taylor that is completely out of any of a few of the unique styles ever invented by him, etc...

VM: May 1, 2003


Robin Taylor - 2001 - "Samplicity"
(50 min, 'Marvel of Beauty')

*****+
TRACK LIST:

1. Black Country 5:55
2. Lavender Mist 5:01
3. BTI 6:42
4. Fractalism 6:33
5. February Pain 4:04
6. Burnt Forest Island 12:37
7. Ambient Isles 9:17

All tracks: composed, arranged, & produced by R. Taylor.

FIRST PILOT (to Free Universe):

Robin Taylor:
- electric guitar; synthesizers & organ; percussion; voice;
- drum samples; programming; loops; effects

Second Pilot:

Karsten Vogel - saxophones 
(of Burning Red Ivanhoe, Secret Oyster, & TFU fame)

Crew:

Louise Nipper - chief engineer
Jan Fischer - voice-sampling engineer

Recorded by L. Nipper at "Soundscape" studio, Copenhagen.
Mixed by R. Taylor & L. Nipper at the same studio.
Mastered by Morten Bue at "Tocano", Denmark.

The Album. "Samplicity" is an all-instrumental album of a real simplexity - where a mere simplicity is raised to the power of a high complexity. (Honest.) Using the language of simplicity, there are two different categories of compositions on "Samplicity". Black Country, Lavender Mist, Fractalism, February Pain, and Burnt Forest Island (tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 6) were performed with the use of the rhythm-section, and BTI and Ambient Isles (3 & 7) without. However, both of the last tracks of the 'first category' feature only a few parts of the aforementioned rhythm section. Furthermore, stylistically, all seven of the said compositions, and these are all the tracks that are present on the album, are quite different among themselves. At the same time however, all of them, as well as the album as a whole (which sounds trivial, yet, logical), are clearly about Fifth Element of a queer, illogically* logical, nature. (*This is not the derivation of "ill logic", though twisting words are certainly the derivations of tautologies.) Here is the first set of key features of the music that is featured here: Originality and Novelty, Hypnotism and Drama, Mystery and Magic, Contrast and Minictism (minimalism raised to the power of eclecticism). Another important aspect of this album is structural. The musical structures, such as those on Fractalism (I am a fractal fatalist, too), February Pain, and Burnt Forest Island (4, 5, & 6), are often both stable and unstable, which happens due to a specification of most of the arrangements that are featured on these pieces. Here, the parts of organ and saxophone that are always diverse and those of electric guitar and synthesizer that are always either merely slow or very slow continuously develop on the background that represents kind of the frozen solos of 'another' guitar and synthesizer. Sometimes though, -as in the case of the same Fractalism, - those frozen solos are, in addition, supported by the stark male vocalizes. The union of strong structures, built up with the use of the slow, yet, really heavy guitar riffs along with the powerful parts of rhythm section, and those that were created by improvisations of sax and real symphonic solos of synthesizer and organ, is also quite typical for this album. In particular, this combination is especially evident on Lavender Mist, Fractalism, and February Pain (2, 4, & 5), especially on the last two of them. Nevertheless, all three of these compositions are marked with the arrangements that are not only highly inventive and very intensive (at least partly), but are also hypnotic and full of magic. Black Country (1) also brings to the listener a healthy dose of hypnotism (no, I'd better say a solid dose of healthy hypnotism). However, this is the only among the intensive compositions on the album that, structurally, represents a fusion of Minimalist and Avant-garde progressive music rather than a 'pure' Fifth Element that dominate over all of the remaining tracks but the following one. Using the language of poetry, Ambient Isles (7) 'are' almost entirely flooded with the surf's waves and the rote stifles most of the other sounds. In fact, the album's closing track is the only composition that, in my view, should not have been included in it. However, a total longevity of the preceding six masterpieces, all of which are just marvelously attractive, is equal to 41 minutes, which is more than merely all right with me in this case.

Summary. Real New Music - a real Fifth Element representing the union of stagnation and development - what is overall that the contents of Robin Taylor's "Samplicity" album (2001) are about. No, I didn't forget that a few months ago and for the first time in my life, I've heard and reviewed an album that practically the same musical union was presented on. However, since an output that I mean here is a debut album, which, moreover, was released this very year, I am inclined to think that Robin Taylor was the first who discovered the 'frozen' musical structures, etc. Which is topical even though (which, in its turn, is here equal to "especially since") I haven't heard any of his several previous albums. Back to the hero of this review, I highly recommend this album to all those who can admit that the combination of completely incompatible things is possible in our dual world, as well as those parallels that cross each other in various 'free' universes, including those of Lobatchevsky and Taylor. As for Taylor's solo creation as a whole, it's just impossible to undervalue it, as well as the significance of Robin's contribution to the development of progressive music. With the exception of "Edge of Darkness" (2000), all of his solo albums are worthy to be heard, to say the least. The Overall View on Robin's creation within the framework of his band Taylor's Universe can be read by clicking > here.

VM: November 26, 2002
Summary completed on May 1, 2003


Robin Taylor - 2003 - "November"
(56 min, 'Marvel of Beauty')

*****
TRACK LIST:

1.  High NRG 4:39
2.  Lowest 4:00
3.  Waiting for Something to Happen 6:18
4.  A Big Sleep 9:47
5.  XR-Cism 4:17
6.  Rotten PNO & Processed NRG 3:40
7.  The Dark Side of Life 21:50
8.  Relief 1:15

All tracks: by Taylor.

SOLO PILOT:

Robin Taylor - 
-	piano & Crumar Stringman; 
-	electric, acoustic, & bass guitars;
-	percussion; drum samples, processing, etc
(No synthesizers & drum machines!)

Produced by Taylor.
Engineered by L. Nipper at "Soundscape", Copenhagen.

Prolusion. "November" is the seventh album Robin Taylor released under his own name, and not that of >Taylor's Universe or Taylor's Free Universe, which, of course, is more than correct (if it's possible:-), since Robin has preferred to realize this project alone.

Synopsis. Although no drum machines were used on "November", the parts of drums on the album's opening track High NRG are too monotonous and sound not unlike those of a drum machine. This way, quite an extraordinary union of Jazz-Fusion, Avant-garde, and Minimalist music presented here turned out to be not as impressive as it could've been if there were at least changes in tempo. If High Energy is the only 'child' of romanticism here, Lowest (2) and the last track on the album Relief (8) do not contain any perceptible moods (rather, just any moods). Consisting only of slow, chaotic rather than eclectic interplay between solos of acoustic guitar and those of percussion instruments and passages of piano respectively, these two represent somewhat of an amorphous Avant-garde. Fortunately, all of the other compositions - those located in the core of the album (tracks 3 to 7) - are masterpieces notable for highly inventive and intriguing arrangements 'painted' with dramatic and, often, dark musical colors and shades that fairly vividly reflect the typical November atmosphere in northern countries and suit my light autumn depression as well. Mystery, tenseness, and hypnotism are also among the central features of these six, the first four of which: Waiting for Something to Happen, A Big Sleep, Exorcism, and Rotten PNO & Processed NRG (3 to 6) are definite entities of Fifth Element, which, in this very case, has in its basis a blend of symphonic, Avant-garde, & minimalist music with and without elements of Metal. The main soloing instruments are piano, electric guitar, bass, and, in a less degree, acoustic guitar and the so-called Crumar Stringman, which sounds like a string ensemble. The 22-minute Dark Side of Life (7) doesn't concern Fifth Element, but this is a real magnum opus anyway. It's about a dark Space music, which, though, consists exclusively of symphonic textures and features some 'frozen' guitar solos, the marvelously innovative and impressive performance function that Robin discovered many years ago. The music is notable for slowly, yet, constantly developing arrangements and is very imaginative.

Conclusion. Taken together, the album's five best compositions last 46 minutes, which, of course, would've been enough for a full-fledged full-length album, which would've been an absolute masterpiece without such makeweights as Relief and Lowest (indeed, otherwise I would have sensed an infra-sound while listening to it). Nevertheless, two strange compositions just aren't able to mar the virtues of this album, and there are plenty of them here. No, I consider Robin Taylor one of the contemporary Titans of Prog not for nothing. When November comes to the end, it's quite a right time to become a listening member of "November".

VM: November 21, 2003


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