Taylor's Universe — Worn Out
(Marvel of Beauty MOBCD 023, 2013, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-07-06Worn out? Anything but! For years Robin Taylor has been leading his bands to new vistas, be they of the more traditional symphonic and melodic prog variety (Taylor’s Universe), or the more challenging and jazz oriented Taylor’s Free Universe. Taylor is primarily a guitarist, though here he covers bass and keys as well; but as the composer of five of the six tracks here, and arranger of all, it’s worth mentioning that he doesn’t write like a guitarist – that is to say he doesn’t write in a way that puts his guitar front and center in every song. More of a consummate composer in every sense, along the lines of Pekka Pohjola or similar artists who have a wider vision than simply showcasing their playing with other musicians supporting; that’s not his way. The powerful and heavy eight-minute opener “Floating Rats” should be ample evidence, but every cut here revels in advanced symphonic rock styles informed by jazz and a touch of folk as well, all instrumental save some wordless vocals on one track. “Jens in Afghanistan” is the oddball, with its military drum cadence and happy-go-lucky melody, along with what sounds like a dozen conversations going on in the background; the sax and keyboard duel that ensues is a pretty wild ride. Closer “Sergeant Pepperoni” is another standout, a more introspective piece with some powerful fiery soloing that closes the disc nicely. This time out Taylor’s collaborators include regulars Karsten Vogel (alto and soprano sax), trumpeter Hugh Steinmetz, and drummer Klaus Thrane, plus Jakob Mygind (tenor and soprano sax), and guitar soloist Jon Hemmersam. This is a disc that continues to satisfy long after most others have found a permanent home on the shelf.
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music world, and festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more