Taylor's Universe — Across the Universe: An Introduction to Taylor's Universe
(Marvel of Beauty , 2015, CD)
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.
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.
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more