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Taylor's Universe - 2013 - "Evidence"

(43:57, Marvel of Beauty)


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TRACK LIST:

1.  Buildings 14:55
2.  Red Afternoon 11:52
3.  Marie Marolle 9:22
4.  Forever and a Day 7:48

LINEUP:

Robin Taylor  guitars, bass; keyboards; flute; percussion
Karsten Vogel  saxophone, clarinet
Thomas Thor Ulstrup  synthesizer 
Claus Bohling  guitars 
Klaus Thrane  drums 
With:
Louise Nipper  voice 

Prolusion. The Danish band project TAYLOR'S UNIVERSE was formed back in 1993, launching their first album the following year and releasing two more prior to the end of the 1990's. From 2004 and onwards this band has been very active, issuing an album a year on average from that point in time and onwards. "Evidence" is the most recent production by Taylor's Universe, their thirteenth in total and the second of the two albums they released in 2013.

Analysis. The various band constellations assembled by Robin Taylor for his Taylor's Universe creations have involved quite a few different musicians over the years, but no matter what musicians are involved there's always a specific, undefinable sound, mood and atmosphere to these productions. The material tends to be instrumental, with some minor voice details the only occasional occurrences of "vocals", and in terms of style progressive rock is the undeniable name of the game. Just where in the progressive rock universe Taylor's Universe should be placed is a topic open for discussion, personally I'll generally describe these albums as residing somewhere in between symphonic progressive and jazz rock in that particular context. Opening compositions Buildings is, as far as I'm concerned, a good case for my personal stance in that department, as details from both of these subsets of progressive rock are very much present in the just under 15 minutes of music played out here. As the song unfolds, long time fans of Taylor's Universe will also soon hear that Taylor has expanded his universe this time around with a more prominent place given to guitar soloing of the harder edged variety. As Claus Bohling is credited for guitar solos, I presume he has contributed extensively here, in a style and manner that makes me think of David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, but with a harder edge and a wilder, untamed overall nature. The following Red Afternoon is arguably closer to the symphonic part of progressive rock however, with a nifty piano motif as something of an identity mark and with plenty of keyboards and organ sharing the limelight with the guitar contributions of aforementioned Bohling. Unless I'm much mistaken, saxophone, clarinet and flute are all given room on this composition, but as it ebbs out it's the guitar, keyboards and organ details that stick in my memory, the careful piano details in particular making a grand impression to my mind here. Marie Marolla follows, and to my ears, this creation is among the very best of the compositions credited to Taylor's Universe. From the marching drums introduction, the initial simplistic yet alluring keyboard motif, later replicated on piano, the dramatic, staccato arrangement applied when the guitar kicks in for the dominating spot and the manner in which this arrangement subtly smooths out the initial dramatic tendencies yet maintains the key structural elements... I could go on, but to my ears this is a joyful, blissful audio experience from the get go to the dying echoes of the final note. Final track Forever and a Day doesn't impress that much from the get go for me, although the opening minutes contain an intriguing blend of subtly exotic textures. But a couple of minutes in, following some nifty soloing, this composition settles in what I have to describe as an archetypical Robin Taylor crafted atmosphere, with layered warm keyboards, organ and a slow paced rhythm as key ingredients, used as a foundation for a succession of soloing sequences until the song fades out, with enough variations in pace and intensity to maintain interest even without the soloing instruments on top. One observation I made more and more frequently as this disc unfolded was the soloing sequences, and how some of them may or may not consist of keyboards sounding like guitars as well as the opposite, solo runs that may or may not be guitars that sound like keyboards. Some nice effects are applied at times that makes the nature of the soloing instrument just a tad less obvious than normal, at least in the ears of a non-musician like myself, a slight detail that triggered my fascination quite a bit. Some of the solo runs are also fairly spirited in nature, fairly close to what might be described as shredding I guess, energetic, pace-filled and intense. An addition to the sound of Taylor's Universe that suits this material quite nicely indeed. Otherwise I'll refer back to my description for the guitar soloing to fairly frequently have a touch of Pink Floyd to them. Often rougher and wilder in nature aye, but at least to my ears, still with a sound and mood to them that often gives me associations in that direction.

Conclusion. On the thirteenth album released under the Taylor's Universe moniker, we're treated to a veteran band that seeks to expand the scope of their chosen universe by way of increased focus on instrumental soloing in general and fairly intense, guitar soloing in particular. A rougher, untamed element unleashed in the otherwise elegant and carefully assembled symphonic progressive rock and jazz rock-tinged landscapes that have been this band's specialty, with compositions more vital in nature and expression as the result. An album that merits a firm recommendation to fans of high-quality instrumental progressive rock.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: March 3, 2014
The Rating Room


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