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(44:56, ‘Marvel of Beauty’)
Prolusion. TAYLOR’S UNIVERSE was founded by Danish composer and multi-instrumentalist Robin Taylor back in 1993, and has been the man’s main band-project ever since. Following a lengthy tenure by famed Danish sax player Karsten Vogel, 2009 marked the first year for a long time without his participation. "Artificial Joy" is the second album sans Vogel issued by Taylor's Universe, and was released in November 2009 on Robin's own label, Marvel of Beauty Records.
TRACK LIST: 1. Work 4:41 2. Artificial Joy 4:25 3. Days Run Like Horses 7:02 4. Atmosafear 7:04 5. Laughter 7:01 6. Telephone 4:59 7. Fame 9:44 LINEUP: Robin Taylor – keyboards; guitars; percussion Michael Denner – guitars Finn Olafsson – guitars Jakob Mygind – saxophones Carsten Sindvald – clarinet, saxophones Flemming Muus Tranberg – bass Klaus Thrane – drums With: Louise Nipper – voice (4, 5)
Analysis. For anyone new to Taylor's Universe, I presume a description of his musical ventures might come in handy. And whenever you're dealing with any works where Robin Taylor has been involved, managing to convey just what the music sounds like is a rather daunting task in itself. The music is instrumental for starters. There's a voiceover on one of the compositions here – which works very well, I might add – but it's the instrumental passages that dominate this as all other efforts by this artist. Vintage keyboards are utilized throughout, as well as piano and organ, most often as richly layered backdrops to the soundscape, with one or more textures given a slightly more dominating role. In this case, as in most others, piano and organ are the ones usually pushed slightly more to the front of the mix, with wandering, repeated piano motifs and surging organ passages as the expressions of choice. All manners of tangents used are mixed and produced to come across as rich, warm and organic in sound, often with a brooding, slightly ominous undercurrent provided by either keyboards or some peculiar, yet highly intriguing and slightly subdued guitar riffs. On top of this musical landscape, themes are explored and soloing commences. In this case the sax and clarinet serve up the most intriguing of those aspects, while the guitars of Olafsson and Denner add some nifty excursions as well. The stylistic expressions venture back and forth between symphonic and fusion in most cases, often in quirky patterns and some subtle dissonant or disharmonic elements blended into otherwise strong, engaging melodies and themes. On this occasion Taylor incorporates some of his more experimental facets to some efforts, most noticeable on Days Run like Horses, opening with an ominous keyboards and reeds passage with almost nightmarish dimensions to it, evolving into a richly textured, hard-hitting symphonic number with noisescapes inserted halfway through and towards the end. A clear highlight on this production in my view, with the quirky opener Work and the multi-segmented, dark number Laughter, a composition not at all what one might expect from name alone, following close at hand. And while the multi-segmented creation Atmosfear didn't really intrigue me, the rest of this album is a high class effort through and through, with some efforts of sheer brilliance as described - in my personal opinion, obviously.
Conclusion. "Artificial Joy" is the tenth effort by Taylor's Universe, and yet again we're dealing with a high-quality production. While arguably not quite as intriguing as past efforts, such as "Soundwall", this is still a more than solid effort, and as always I'm impressed by Robin's ability to churn out one quality release after another. Highly recommended to any fans of his works, and a good place to start exploring the discography of Taylor's Universe for those not yet familiar with this act.