Robin C Taylor

BIOGRAPHY - detailed (in his own words)

Early years

Robin Taylor 1974Born to English/Danish parents in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1956. I have listened to music, as long as I can remember and started out playing a cheap electric guitar, when I was 12, and formed my first band with some friends from school. Through my teens I played mainly bass guitar in a lot of local (unknown) rock groups - sometimes also drums - and during this period I developed my composing abilities. I have never had any formal musical training; just went to a lot of concerts as well as listening to a lot of records - and then followed my intuition.

After getting to know the very early records by Mike Oldfield as well as the album "Like Children" by ex Mahavishnu folks, Jerry Goodman & Jan Hammer, I became fascinated by this way of putting music together (using lots of over-dubs), and I started to experiment with the potential within tape recorders. In the late 1970s I managed to produce a series of works, that - despite their poor sound quality - were presented in the "lo-fi" radio broadcast show "Båndbixen", a monthly programme where the National Radio gave amateurs and up-and-coming talents an opportunity to be heard by a large audience. Over the following years I contributed with several recordings - till mid 1980s.

Turning pro

Robin Taylor 1982By late 1987 I had almost given up music. I hadn`t played with a band for years, and my home-studio equipment was worn-out. At New Year 1988 I went to an art school and during my five months stay, I made friends with a young and unexperienced piano player, Jan Marsfeldt, who was very enthusiastic about some of my old tapes, I had brought with me. We spent a lot of time jamming together, which led to a demo-recording as part of the school excursion to a minor - but professional (Wow!) - recording studio in Copenhagen. This was my first introduction to Soundscape Studio...

The musical chemistry between Marsfeldt and myself had ignited, and we decided to go into more action as soon as he could afford his own keyboard. We were determined to make our own record - no matter how the odds were - and in the end of 1989 we started recording some material of mine, which, supplemented with a few of my earlier recordings, turned out as my debut LP, Essay, at the end of 1991. We were new to the game - and rather naive - but this was our testimony (recorded on my old worn-out equipment). We were in the business now - and hungry for more.

Still recording at home, but with better equipment, led to 1992's release of Cloze Test Terror, which opened the eyes (and ears) of some of the Danish press (and promised quite well for the future...)

Robin Taylor & Jan MarsfeldtAt this point I realized, that the direction my music was heading would demand far better technical facilities than those of my home studio, so for the next couple of years Marsfeldt and I spent lots of time working both at my home and at the expanding Soundscape Studio in Copenhagen. The sessions would include drummer Mads Hansen, trumpet player Hugh Steinmetz (voted Danish Jazz Musician of the year 1966), experienced - but much underrated - sax player Jakob Mygind as well as guitarists Henning Plannthin and Henrik Andersen. As always everybody played for free, as I was heavily hung up on paying the studio bills. This very ambitious project, named Taylor`s Universe, was released in autumn 1994 - to much acclaim from the press.

In between Marsfeldt and I had made the title track for a short film, Skæbnens Veje (Ways of Destiny), by director Mette Hansen (1993).

In 1994 recordings went on for a second TU album, which was completed in spring 1995 - released as Pork the year after (on my own newstarted label, Marvel of Beauty). This album was my last with Marsfeldt as a regular working-partner, as he lost interest in music and quit the business.

Hugh Steinmetz had made a strong contribution to Pork, and when he in the summer of 1996 had plans of forming a kind of avant-garde big-band, he invited me to join the party. Communio Musica, which comprised many of the leading figures from the Danish free-jazz scene, made their first appearances at an art exhibition in the autumn during "Copenhagen Cultural Capital of Europe 1996". In early 1997 the group went into the studios to record material co-composed by Steinmetz and myself. After finishing this project, I left the group to continue my own work. Special Alloy wasn`t released before the end of 2000.

Working with Communio Musica I had the good fortune of getting to know Karsten Vogel (founding member of Burnin Red Ivanhoe and Secret Oyster), who had been part of my inspirations in the younger days. Being also a brilliant sax player, I asked him to join the sessions for my third project in the name of Taylor`s Universe. It was a much altered TU this time (though Jan Marsfeldt paid a visit on three tracks). From CM I had also brought drummer Rasmus Grosell and multi horn player Kim Menzer. In late 1998 Experimental Health was released, and the press was overwhelming.

After collaborating with Steinmetz and Vogel, who both were pioneers in the avant-garde movement back in the 1960s, I thought it would be fun to put them together in a project of mine, where structures were more loose than in TU. They both performed extremely well, whether the music was free improvised or based on written material. Heart Disc was released in the end of 1999.

Live as well

Taylors universe 2000Around New Year 2000 Vogel and Steinmetz talked me into forming a live performing unit, which had a few rehearsals in the early spring - including also Kim Menzer and drummer Peter Bruun - but it didn`t quite happen on this occasion.

In the summer I did a series of studio sessions with Vogel, Steinmetz, Bruun and piano great Carsten Dahl. The idea was to make an album of improvisations alongside a lot of very old recordings of weird sounds from my tape archive. This very odd avant-garde project was released in the end of the year as Edge of Darkness.

In the autumn of 2000 I had also released a strange compilation (as a limited edition) of tracks from the early years, The Båndbix Tapes, just in case some of my most devoted fans would like to listen to how it all started.

Eventually in April 2001 Taylor`s Free Universe made their live debut at "Festival på Kanten" (an experimental music festival) in Copenhagen. The band now consisted of Vogel: saxes, Taylor: guitar & electronics, Bruun: drums, Johan Segerberg: bass & electronics and Jon Meinild: treatments & electronics.

Most of that same year I was kept occupied working on a new solo album, which was released before Christmas as Samplicity. Once again the press was very enthusiastic.

Taylors Free Universe 2002On January 28, 2002, Taylor`s Free Universe gathered in Soundcape Studio with two new members, drummer Kalle Mathiesen and violinist Pierre Tassone (replacing Bruun and Meinild). A couple of hours of - mainly - free improvisation was recorded and, in the months that followed, refined to 50 minutes of music, which was released in the autumn as File Under Extreme. (This CD was later voted 5th best Danish jazz release 2002 (of 136) by staff at DK jazz magazine, Jazz Special.)

By the end of 2002 I started working on what was to become my first ever "real" solo album in the sense, that every single note was played by me exclusively. November was completed the following year and released... in November.

In between TFU had played a gig in April 2003 at Toldkammeret, Elsinore, (with legendary bass player Peter Friis Nielsen replacing Segerberg). A recording of this event resulted in the release of On-Plugged in Elsinore some months later (at that bright summer day, when TFU performed open air at the 25th Copenhagen Jazz Festival). The following spring this album was honoured by a nomination for a Danish Music Award Jazz 2004 in category "Album of the Year". At the same time 9 Eleven - Live at Copenhagen JazzHouse (2CD) was released (recorded in 2002 by the Danish National Radio). Among the gigs in 2004 TFU played at the Aarhus International Jazz Festival in the summer.

After New Year 2004 I started working on a new project in the studio. It soon hit me, that the music had a lot of similarity to the music of TU (who had been resting since 1998) - in terms of structures and melody - so in the summer it was released as Taylor's Universe with Karsten Vogel: Once Again.

That same summer I had a search through my archives and found several uncompleted recordings from sessions spread over the past 12 years. I decided to take them to the studio and complete every one of them; it would be worth trying to see, what the result would be like. I was a bit surpriced, and so were the medias, when Robin Taylor: X Position Vol.1 was released in the autumn that followed.

In the autumn of 2004 Kim Menzer made a substitute for Vogel in TFU - both at a gig and shortly after in the studio, where 80 minutes of live improvisations were recorded and later mixed and edited down for the album, Family Shot (released in February 05). Apart from Tassone and Taylor doing their usual stuff, Menzer played wind instruments, Friis Nielsen: bass and Lars Juul: drums.

Most of the winter and spring of 2005 was spent at recording the TU album, Oyster's Apprentice (released in the summer). As one might guess, this was my kind of tribute to Mr. Vogel's legendary 70s group, Secret Oyster. SO were one of my main influences back then, and several tracks on this album were even composed at that time. The line-up was: Vogel, Taylor and Grosell - as well as Jon Hemmersam: guitar, Kalle Mathiesen: drums (on three tracks) and Louise Nipper: voice. The album was very well received by the press.

2005 also saw a Volume 2 in the X Position series. The subtitle was "Projekt '85", as I for this CD had completed a selection of unfinished mid-80s recordings, which were stranded for two decades. Participants were Jan Fischer: voices, keyboard etc. and Mads Hansen: drums. A very strange and (to some people) annoying album (!)

In late 2005 TFU played another gig at the Copenhagen JazzHouse. The music was recorded by the Soundscape Mobile studio, and afterwards I spent some time mixing and editing, before it was released as Manipulated by Taylor in March 06. TFU were: Vogel, Tassone and Taylor - with Klavs Hovman: bass & electronics and Lars Juul: drums & electronics. The following autumn this album was nominated for an award (in category: Best Foreign Record) by ProgAwards!

Prior to the release of "Manipulated" I had completed what was to become my next solo album: Deutsche Schule!. Inspired by some German artists from the 70s Krautrock scene (and some phrases I remembered from school) I made this peculiar statement, with assistance from Vogel, Nipper and Grosell, to much acclaim from the press. Also this CD got a nomination from Progawards in the category mentioned above!

In the first half of 2006 I was committed to work on a new album by TU, my most "proggy" album for long. This time as a trio work: Vogel, Taylor and Grosell. When it was released as "Certain Undiscoveries" in the autumn, I had almost finished its successor "Terra Nova" - also by TU - as well. Both albums were released by Russian prog-label, MALS, who also re-issued some earlier TU stuff. "Terra Nova" has the same core line-up (Vogel, Taylor, Grosell) - with a few guest players added: Hugh Steinmetz on trumpet & flugelhorn, as well as Louise Nipper with Jytte Lindberg providing voices. Released in summer 2007.

Taylors Universe 2007

Also most of winter and spring 2007 was spent in the studio, where I created my next solo album, "Isle of Black" - this time for Swedish prog-label, Transubstans Records. Again with help from Vogel, Grosell and Nipper. The release was much delayed, but finally happened in summer 2008.

By summer 2007 I had a music talk with metal guitar hero, Michael Denner (Mercyful Fate, King Diamond etc.), who knew what I was doing, and when I told him, I had just started working on a new TU CD project, he offered his services. As I'd never had an opportunity like that before, I said: -Yeah, why not - let's go! Denner's guitar fit like hand in glove, and this album, "Soundwall", was released on both vinyl and CD around New Year 2008. This album was also the last to feature "the trio" (Vogel, Taylor, Grosell) together.

Because "Soundwall" turned out that good, Denner and I didn't hesitate about planning a new project together. Denner knew lyricist/songwriter Jesper Harrits, who had a lot of material lying around - mainly as sketches, so I took some of them to the studio and started making new arrangements. In the autumn of 2007 we began recording songs for the forthcoming, selftitled album by our new "supergroup", Art Cinema. Apart from me, playing the usual stuff, Denner played guitars - and so did Jon Hemmersam, Carsten Sindvald took care of the saxophones, Flemming Muus (Tranberg) played bass, and Denner's former colleage, Bjarne T. Holm (Mercyful Fate) provided the drums. Also violinist Pierre Tassone helped out on a few tracks. On top of all this Jytte Lindberg and Louise Nipper took care of all the vocals.

Art Cinema was not like anything else, I'd been part of in the past; the album contained (more or less) traditionally structured songs, but though it may seem like a pop album on the surface, there's still plenty of room for metal, jazz, avant-garde and ambient electronics. The album was released in summer 2008. Again to much acclaim from the medias.

Then I started working on the ninth album by Taylor's Universe, Return to Whatever, which marked a radical change, as TU's line-up were now identical to Art Cinema (apart from the absence of Jytte Lindberg and Jon Hemmersam). Also Klaus Thrane had replaced Bjarne T. Holm on drums, and I feel, this is the strongest TU incarnation ever. Work was completed in the beginning of 2009, and this album was released by MALS in April. In October it was nominated by ProgAwards in categories Best Foreign Album and Best Recording.

Most of 2009 has been spent working on the follow-up, Artificial Joy - joined by guitarist Finn Olafsson (of legendary group Ache fame) and saxophonist Jakob Mygind. Album released in November.

Stay tuned..