To all appearances, "File Under Extreme" is the debut album by the
internationally Danish band Taylor's Free Universe,
in the line-up of which I see the name of Pierre Tassone.
If you wish to read the review of Pierre's collaborative album
with the Latvian violin quartet Difference, click
I haven't reviewed the works of Progressive's Fifth Element genre for quite
a while, so the arrival of the "File Under Extreme" CD just before my birthday
I regard as a good sign. ("File Under Fifth Element" could've been also an
appropriate title for this album.) A very unusual, yet, truly unique blend
of all five of the traditionally classic genres and sub-genres of Prog:
Jazz-Fusion, Art-Rock, RIO, Prog-Metal, & Space Rock, raised to the power
of Avant-garde Academic Music, along with something absolutely new, is what
the music on this album is about overall. Though it must be said that all
the elements of these classic genres and sub-genres of Prog are actually
featureless in the music of Taylor's Free Universe. Here, they're really free
of their classic constituents, so the terms that I used when describing the
stylistics of this album in detail should be perceived only relatively.
Yes-yes, such a polymorphous and highly innovative style that lies in the
basis of music presented on "File Under Extreme" must be defined as nothing
else but Fifth Element. There are no any repetitions on the album, and all
the musical structures of it are very, yet, positively unstable. Then, back
to the classic terms, the following detailed definition of Taylor's Free
Universe's music would be the best, in my view. This is a fusion of
Avant-garde Academic Music and Free Jazz with elements of all five of the
aforementioned Progressive Rock genres and sub-genres. Certainly, both of
the bits that are presented in the track list of this CD as separate pieces:
Stand Apart and Bonus Tragg (tracks 2 & 9), should be regarded just as an
intro to Free-Bop (3) and the outro of the album respectively. The first of
them consists of only a couple of riffs of electric & bass guitars done along
with a couple of beats of drums. The last track on the album, "composed" by
Tailor, features naturally only one riff of guitar with an echo. Well, in
comparison with "voices of a void" (long pauses) that came into fashion in
the second half of the 1990s, such funs are quite acceptable, especially
since they're just a smallest part of a gem titled "File Under Extreme".
The arrangements that Germanism, More Germanism, Less Is More, and Aspects of
a Myth (1, 4, 6, & 8) consist of are for the most part slow, yet, at the
same time incredibly diverse and wonderfully eclectic. The number of highly
eclectic improvisational jams is there small in comparison with those on Age
Concern, Evaluation, and Free-Bop (tracks 5, 7, & 3 respectively). Certainly,
all three of these pieces, and especially Free-Bop, appear less structured
than any other composition on the album. Both Age Concern and Evaluation
consist of various, slow and fast, arrangements. While Free-Bop, in its
entirety is covered by a really wild jam where, with the exception of 'lazy'
solos and riffs of electric guitar, all the soloing parts are fast and frantic.
Here, the band literally erases the border between Avant-garde Jazz,
Avant-garde Academic Music, and Classic Progressive Rock, pushing all of
it on and on and, finally, transforming all of it into a highly innovative,
eclectic, and intensive improvisational jam. It must be said that the solos
and riffs of electric guitar, unlike those of all the other instruments, are
almost always slow on "File Under Extreme". Not as evident as those of
saxophones, violin, and double bass, the parts of electric guitar are,
however, the most unique on this album, even though they play a really
prominent role only on Age Concern (5). I have never heard such an unusual
and clearly innovative method of playing a guitar. Quite the contrary,
the drumming is highly intensive and, often, powerful and fast even in those
pieces that are basically slow. Along with uniqueness and eclecticism,
effective contrasts are one of the key aspects (or trumps, if you will)
of this album. I wouldn't say that there are some traditionally familiar
moods on "File Under Extreme", yet, an overall atmosphere of the album
is either tense or rather dark. All of this is quite typical for RIO,
but I doubt that someone would be able to find here at least only one
episode that would be at least more or less obviously about RIO and any
of the other classic progressive genres as well.
Despite the fact that the musical structures of this album are very unstable
and, sometimes, completely unstructured and even chaotic (they're mostly
just seemingly chaotic, though), there are lots of classically essential
progressive ingredients on "File Under Extreme". In fact, the continuous
development of anything that is featured on this remarkable album is the
main and the most exciting characteristic of it. Nevertheless, I can
highly recommend this album only to those lovers of progressive music
who are both very mature and adventurous.
VM. October 26, 2002
Taylor's Free Universe - 2003 - "On-plugged in Elsinore"
(65 min, 'Marvel of Beauty')
1. Amalie 9:02 (Nielsen)
2. Picnic at Noon 10:40 (TFU)
3. Tight Little Waves 7:16 (Vogel)
4. The Fifth Element 16:05 (TFU)
5. Exit Elsinore 13:05 (Tassone, Taylor)
6. Train 9:46 (Taylor)
Robin Taylor - guitars; electronics
Peter Friis Nielsen - electric bass
Karsten Vogel - alto saxophone
Pierre Tassone - processed violin
Kalle Mathiesen - percussion, samples, etc
Produced by Robin Taylor.
Recorded live in Elsinore, Denmark.
Engineered by T. Mikkelsen.
Only about a year has passed since "File Under Extreme" was released, and Taylor's Free Universe is back with a new album, the 65-minute "On-plugged in Elsinore", which, while being a 'live' album, consists exclusively of new materials.
"On-plugged in Elsinore" is another great example of a top-notch contemporary Progressive, and although this music is a bit farther from 'classic', completely structured and harmonious, forms than that on >"Nekropolis 23, Vol. 1", it should be comprehensible for most of the profound Prog-lovers, including 'classic' ones. This album was in its entirety created within the framework of a unified stylistics representing Fifth Element - the most unusual and polymorphous progressive genre, the essence of which is nothing else but a daring innovation. And by the way, one of the tracks here is named in full accordance with the music on it. However, the best definition of this 'on-plugged' music would probably be Mysterious Atmospheric Fifth Element consisting of avant-garde kinds of Jazz-Fusion, Space Rock, Art-Rock, and RIO with some quantity of elements of music of the East and the bits of Prog-Metal, all of which, in addition, is intermixed with magic. (All becomes simple like arithmetic after a few successive listens to any material.) The album consists of six compositions, and there are only a few differences between them, all of which concern only the combination of constituents forming Fifth Element. Jazz-Fusion, Art-Rock, and RIO prevail on Amalie (1), Jazz-Fusion and Space Rock on Picnic at Noon and Tight Little Waves (2 & 3), Space Rock on The Fifth Element and Exit Elsinore (4 & 5), and Prog-Metal, Space Rock, and Jazz-Fusion on Train (6). Please don't forget to mentally place "Avant-garde" before each of the said genres and styles when reading this and try to imagine what this album is about, which however won't be effective without hearing it. Do you think I am too keen on classification? Of course, all classifications are imprecise, especially those concerning such complex music as Fifth Element, and nevertheless, classification is what all sciences and arts are stand on; it's like Ariadne's thread for them. After all, it's impossible to use any concrete comparisons while describing music by such innovative performers as Robin Taylor. And thus, it would be very hard for me to give you an idea of the UMO (unusual music object) I tell about without using genre classifications. Finally, I must notice that the music on this album is very imaginative, and it's preferable to listen to it with headphones.
I believe you have guessed dear readers what I am going to say in closing. Yes, "On-plugged in Elsinore" is a mind-blowing masterpiece, and I heartily recommend it to all those who know to whom I appeal.
VM: July 25, 2003