Taylor's Universe — From Scratch
(Marvel of Beauty MOBCD 025, 2015, CD)
by Peter Thelen, 2015-03-20:Each new release by Taylor’s Universe brings some familiarity and some surprises, and so it is with their latest release From Scratch. The cast is familiar, with Robin Taylor handling bass guitar, keyboards, vocorder, percussion, and electric guitar on a few tracks, with Karsten Vogel on saxes and bass clarinet, Claus Bøhling on electric guitar, Klaus Thrane on drums, and Thomas Ulstrup on Minimoog. Add to that some extra sax players on one cut, several vocalists where needed, including engineer Louise Nipper. Overall, the style this time is heavier and darker, with a more direct attack; there are more wordless vocals, subtle spoken voice loops and edits, all epitomized by the album’s centerpiece, the nine-minute “Interrail,” a haunting piece that will get stuck in the listener’s head for days. The interesting use of vocorder, tapes and looped voices on “Beta X” makes it unique in comparison to almost anything in the band’s repertoire to date. The beautiful and melodic “Laura’s Lullaby” is a moving showcase for Vogel’s sax soloing with subtle backing voices that at its conclusion proceeds directly into the powerful instrumental anthem “Für Louise” with some rocking guitar by guest Finn Olafsson. “Balcony People” makes further use of low-level spoken voice samples whole the piece slowly grows out of them until it assumes its form as a rocking showcase for conversations between effected guitars and Minimoog. Perhaps the most intense piece is the seven-minute closer “Autumn River,” where soaring guitars float high above a backdrop of flowing loops and dreamy textures. Overall, From Scratch is a very surprising change in trajectory for Taylor’s Universe.
by Henry Schneider, 2015-05-30:
Robin Taylor is quite a prolific Danish guitarist, recording and performing both as a solo artist and also leader of Taylor’s Universe since the mid 80s. Each new release contains new compositions bringing some familiarity with things past and surprises of new things to come. For this outing, From Scratch, the Universe is Robin (electric and bass guitars, keyboards, percussion, etc.), Karsten Vogel (sax and bass clarinet), Claus Bøhling (electric guitar), Thomas Thor Viderøulstrup (miniMoog), and Klaus Thrane (drums). Guests include Finn Olafsson (electric guitar), Jakob Mygind (sax), Carsten Sindvald (sax), and the voices of Jytte Lindberg, Louise Nipper, and Jan Fischer. There is something for everyone here from the melodic to the avant-garde. The opening track “Other Meetings” is dominated by organ and very polished electric guitar. This is a smooth progressive rock tune going through many changes and mood shifts. The second track “Beta X” starts as an amorphous dissonant and eerie soundscape mixed with laughter samples than morphs back and forth between melodic sax and analog electronics with hints of Besombes and Rizet. “Balcony People” takes the use of voices even further and then launches into some blazing guitar solos and jazz-fusion. The nine-minute “Interrail” starts off cold and sterile with wordless female singing over Vogel’s heavy dark alto sax. Then suddenly at the mid-point there is an abrupt shift. If you were not paying close attention, you would swear that a new song had started. The beautiful “Laura’s Lullaby” showcases Vogel’s mastery of the soprano sax accompanied by Taylor’s piano chops and segues nicely into “Für Louise” with Sinvald’s sinister baritone sax. Again, about the mid-point the music kicks into high gear with melodic piano, excellent guitar work, and Mygind’s soprano sax. Taylor saved the best track for last “Autumn River,” an ambient flowing masterpiece of Taylor's keyboards, EBowed guitar loops, and Bøhling’s soaring electric guitar flights of fancy. Overall quite an excellent album and a pleasure to enjoy.
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