Taylor's Universe — Across the Universe: An Introduction to Taylor's Universe
(Marvel of Beauty , 2015, CD)
by Henry Schneider, 2016-01-25:
Robin Taylor has quite the body of work. Each new album builds on his previous work and adds new elements. And that brings us to the new Taylor’s Universe album, Across the Universe. Rather than compose and record another album of new music, Robin decided to release a selection of what he considers highlights from the Taylor’s Universe catalog, sampling from Kind of Red (2012), Artificial Joy (2009), and Return to Whatever (2009). Across the Universe is not what we have come to think of as a greatest hits release. Instead he recorded altered versions of seven tracks; rearranging, re-recording, remixing, or re-mastering the music. Even though Robin plays most of the instruments (guitar, keyboards, bass, percussion, etc.) the other musicians are basically the same as who played on Kind of Red, but different from the other two albums. Therefore, I am guessing the major alterations were made to the tracks from 2009. The timings between the original tracks and Across the Universe are all different, usually by a handful of seconds, but on “Fame” and “Haunted Yellow House” the differences are minutes. I am only familiar with Kind of Red, so I cannot comment on the musical differences from the other albums. I really cannot tell the difference on “Salon Bleu,” so this song may just be re-mastered. “Firestone” is definitely a remix as the saxophone heard at the beginning is now absent. And “Tortugas” sounds like the bass has been emphasized. So for the Robin Taylor purist you may not be interested in Across the Universe. But for someone unfamiliar with his work, Across the Universe is a great place to start. The music is outstanding.
by Peter Thelen, 2016-01-25:
Interesting concept here. Across The Universe is billed as “An introduction to Taylor’s Universe,” and I would agree that for a band with fourteen full length releases to date, a best-of compilation would be a good thing for listeners just tuning in now. But that’s not what this is, at least not the way it’s usually done. Instead, Robin Taylor and the current version of TU decided to, for whatever reason, re-record seven pieces that originally appeared on the albums Artificial Joy (2009), Return to Whatever (2009), and Kind of Red (2012). The latter album, from which “Salon Bleu,” “Tortugas,” and “Firestone” were culled, was originally recorded with a lean crew of only three instrumentalists, an excellent album for certain, but nonethelss it benefits from the six-piece lineup featured here and some changes in the original arrangements. “Days Run Like Horses,” originally featured on Artificial Joy seems more fluid, experimental and ‘live’ here in its current version. “Fame,” taken from the same album, trades some of its initial heaviness for a more reserved approach ramping up, arriving at that point later in the piece, and trimming several minutes off the near-ten minute original. Several of the same players are featured in this special lineup: drummer Klaus Thrane, saxophonist Jakob Mygind and (of course) Taylor were on the original version, but two new guitarists John Sund and Frank Carvalho (from Etcetera) feature here, as well as synth player Thomas Thor Viderø Ulstrup, who has been with the band on recent releases Evidence and From Scratch. The final two cuts are “Haunted Yellow House,” in a more animated and longer arrangement, and “Mooncake” – both from Return to Whatever. For one who’s never experienced Taylor’s Universe before, this is definitely a great introduction, but for those who have the three original releases, don’t miss out on these excellent alternate arrangements.
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From the press release:
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.
“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.
“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)
As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.