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(51 min, 'MOB')
TRACK LIST: 1. Introducing Mr. Gregory 4:45 2. Music Quiz 6:20 3. The Danger of Modern Art 4:51 4. Evil Force 3:22 5. Collective Acid Dive 11:22 6. Forum 1:51 7. Energizing 2:20 8. East of Sweden 3:19 9. Manestreem Bob 5:41 10. Iron Sausage End 7:06 LINEUP: Robin Taylor - guitars; keyboards; loops Pierre Tassone - Grand piano; processed violin Karsten Vogel - saxophones Lars Juul - drums; electronics Klavs Hovman - acoustic bass; loops
Prolusion. With the release of "Manipulated by Taylor" Denmark's most prolific contemporary Prog mover Robin Taylor celebrates a kind of double jubilee, because this is the fifth album by TAYLOR'S FREE UNIVERSE (TFU hereafter) and is the twentieth release in the maestro's general discography, which also includes his solo works and those by Taylor's Universe. The material presented on this CD was selected, mixed and edited by Robin from live recordings made by TFU at Copenhagen Jazz House on September 15, 2005.
Analysis. While distinctly original as everything by TFU, this album is nevertheless closer to the project's previous effort "Family Shot" than to their earlier recordings, combining quieter, reflective compositions with those more intense and dynamic. Introducing Mr. Gregory and Collective Acid Dive both steer somewhere between Ambient and Space Fusion and are quite imaginative, full of open and hidden mystery. Each starts off with soft synthesizer and sax, soon to be joined by the other instruments, but the music remains slow and atmospheric throughout. The focus is on interesting sonic combinations and insistent grooves rather than soloing, save sax lines, which are certainly designed to bring a striking element of contrast to the music. The second half of the latter features few solos as such in general, being a kind of space Sargasso woven mainly of loops, effects and unusually elicited sounds. Music Quiz is also mostly a kind of ambient Space Fusion, but its 'enigmatic nature' is just too far-fetched. Nothing significant happens there. The Danger of Modern Art and Iron Sausage End both begin and develop much in the same vein as the first two tracks described, although their first (and basic) movements are initiated by the guitar and sax and, respectively, violin and bass. The finale of each, however, finds the band intensively jamming in their best avant-garde tradition. Forum starts off with a contrasting interplay between symphonic organ passages and those of Grand Piano, which are improvised, but the music soon enters the realm of eclectic avant-jazz - to stay there until the end of the next piece, Energizing. Along with The Danger of Modern Art and Iron Sausage End these two are my favorite compositions on this CD. Improvisation plays a very big role on each of the remaining three pieces: Evil Force, Manestreem Bob and East of Sweden. A freewheeling jazz rules on the former two, while the latter, with its sophisticated acoustic piano, is closer to classic Jazz-Fusion.
Conclusion. The border between Robin Taylor's solo works and those by both Taylor's Universe and TFU has somewhat lost the precision of its outlines during the last two years. Overall, "Manipulated by Taylor" is a very good album, though I am already quite strongly missing of those energy-laden, dense, intense, coming almost non-stop avalanche-like joint arrangements that the project's first three efforts are filled with.
VM: April 14, 2006
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