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Taylor's Universe - 2007 - "Terra Nova"

(42:22 / MALS Records)


******!
                 

TRACK LIST:                                 
               
1.  Terra Nova 5:48
2.  Amhage West 5:21
3.  Meccane 3:44
4.  They Usually Come at Night 6:48
5.  Metropolarization 4:34
6.  Land of Lamps 7:26
7.  Ruby Wires 4:02
8.  City of Greed 6:42

LINEUP:

Robin Taylor - guitars; keyboards; percussion; flute
Karsten Vogel - saxophones, bass clarinet
Rasmus Grossel - drums 
With:
Hugh Steinmetz - trumpet (4)
Louise Napper - voice (1, 2, 5)
Jytte Lindberg - voice (1, 8)
                               

Prolusion. Robin Taylor, a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter from Denmark, is unquestionably one of the most fruitful artists in the history of Progressive Rock. Judge for yourselves: "Terra Nova" is the twenty-third release in his general discography, not one of the outings being a compilation. As Taylor's Free Universe has called it a day, Robin seems to have now all his efforts switched over to TAYLOR'S UNIVERSE, the most 'symphonic' of his three projects. Looking for more info? Click >here.

Analysis. Continuing to develop the style they pioneered on their previous album "Certain Undiscoveries", on "Terra Nova" Taylor's Universe make their closest approach to perfection as regards a symphonic sound. Driven by keyboards (organ, piano, grand piano and synthesizers - listed in line of descent according to their appearance in the arrangement), with excellent support from both guitar and winds as well as precise drumming, most of the tracks here find the group playing music whose relationship with late-'70s Art-Rock and related styles is simply striking. It doesn't seem to be accidental at all that Robin continues to increase the weight of keyboards in the project's overall sound, and his growth as a symphonic composer is evident throughout the CD. Some of the eight pieces here are gloomy in mood, but most are so to speak emotionally labile (which has been always one of the hallmarks of progressive music), and all without exception are very imaginative, with magic residing nearly everywhere. Upon an initial listening the first two tracks, Terra Nova and Amhage West, both may seem to be more conventionally melodic than any of the subsequent ones, and yet there is a genuine depth in their arrangements whose multi-layered constructions manifest the approach used in classic Minimalist music. The sound is highly original, lying far aside any standards; only when the saxophone goes into action does it resemble The Alan Parsons Project, though there are no sequenced solos here (or anywhere on the disc either), but there are heavy guitar riffs in places, accentuating the power of the music, as well as some charming female vocalizations. Meccane and Ruby Wires are both sonically similar to the above two tracks, but are noticeably more eclectic. Karsten ventures on some genuine improvisations, occasionally providing counterpoint solos, none of which however conflicts with the pieces' fundamental symphonic nature, but surprisingly accentuates it instead, by contrast. Alternating beautiful, melodically pronounced themes with darker and at once much more sophisticated passages, Metropolarization is additionally notable for its delicate interludes featuring only piano, organ and string ensemble. While seemingly ranging from Jazz-Fusion to Sympho Prog to Psychedelia, Land of Lamps and City of Greed both overall represent a new word in progressive music. A combination of highly eclectic jam-like interactions between numerous instruments (most being overdubbed for sure) and a groovy, hypnotic bottom line, each disposes me towards a contemplation each time I play them. What makes the pieces sound like they belong predominantly to the former genre is their profusion in brass leads, and also (in the case of the closing number) some jazzy female vocalizations. As I suppose however, the biggest surprise awaits the listener on the fourth track, They Usually Come at Night, which will be a threat for anybody with interest in progressive Doom Metal. The composition begins in the uncomfortably slow-paced fashion, associating itself exclusively with a requiem. Later on the pressure steadily builds up, and soon the composition plunges the listener into an atmosphere of drama, a heavy disturbing theme somewhat reminiscent of Tiamat's "Wildhoney", but with a better keyboardist, plus two brass players whose wild improvisations seem to appear straight from the eye of that storm.

Conclusion. Though I'd been happier if the music on "Terra Nova" had been more complicated, I must admit this is a creation of genius. I am amazed with Taylor's ability to achieve true creative success in whatever direction he takes as a songwriter. Anyway I would highly recommend him to focus on heavy music in the future, so as to finally get an appropriate response from a wide circle of progressive rock fans.

VM: October 24, 2007


Taylor's Universe - 2007 - "Terra Nova"

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Analysis. Musically Taylor continues making music that is hard to place in a box. The main bases in most songs here are electronica, while the structure of the songs for my ears seems to be dominated by jazz; as layers of melodies and dissonance are key elements in most tracks here. The main instrument appears to be the Hammond, while saxes, clarinets and trumpets are used for melodic overlays and soloing, and electric guitar is used to add a heavy dark timbre to some pieces here as well. The piano is also used extensively to play simple melody lines to contrast with the other instruments here. Dissonance is a key word for me in describing this release, and the mood of most of these songs is dark and sombre, many tracks having a brooding and ominous feel to them. Overall this adds up to a release that is not easily accessible, and most listeners will probably need time to 'crack the code' for the music on this release. At least, listeners not familiar with jazz and free form jazz will have some difficulties in digesting this release on the first few spins, as the dissonances here and the overall dark moods on most songs may on first listen even sound a bit off key due to the contrasts in the soundscape. There are many good tracks on this release once you manage to penetrate the music here. None of the songs manage to really captivate me in the same manner as the best tracks from Taylor's 2006 releases, but many have interesting feels to them that will be explored further. I suspect that it will take some time to really appreciate this album as a whole; and I get the feel that most songs here will steadily sound better the more I play them. Personal favorites: Amhage West, Metropolarization and City of Greed.

Conclusion. I'd recommend fans of experimental electronica based music as well as fans of experimental jazz and fusion to check out this release further, as people into these types of music should be able to fathom the styles and textures on this release relatively fast. Others into experimental music should also check this one out, especially fans of challenging music who are used to giving releases several spins before being able to enjoy the music.

OMB: December 7, 2007


Related Links:

Musea Records
MALS Records
>Robin Taylor


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