Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

208

Taylor's Universe with Karsten Vogel: Oyster's Apprentice

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
If I learned anything on my recent trip to Punktfest in Norway, it's that there's a world of music out there which is lucky if it even receives a passing nod in North America. The internet has made it possible to gain access to much of this material, although one has to know where to look. The stylistically flexible Danish multi-instrumentalist Robin Taylor nearly gave up music at one point, like so many before and since—but beginning in the mid-1990s, he began releasing albums under his own name, Taylor's Free Universe and Taylor's Universe. This release by Taylor's Universe, Oyster's Apprentice, begs the question: "Where have I been?

Unlike TFU, which is more improvisation-based, Taylor's Universe focuses on Taylor's considerable skills as composer and sound sculptor. Generally symphonic progressive rock with a variety of references, Oyster's Apprentice's eclecticism succeeds despite itself through a thematic approach to composition that threads its way throughout the record regardless of style.

While Taylor's writing maintains a structural framework throughout, there are moments closing in on pure abandon. There's nothing similar about its shuffle rhythm, but there's something about "Ghost Reporters that's reminiscent of recently deceased Canterbury drummer Pip Pyle's "Foetal Fandango, from his 1985 album Equipe Out. Saxophonist Karsten Vogel—a 1960s avant-garde pioneer and a founding member of the 1970s progressive rock group Secret Oyster—creates an alto horn section singlehandedly for the song's infectious melody. But the centerpiece is guitarist Jon Hemmersam's solo, which begins on the inside but gradually moves towards greater extremes, approaching anarchy before reaching a climax that suddenly returns to the song's original theme.

"That Strange Plaza is episodic in nature, beginning with a harmonium pedal tone over which Taylor layers edgy electronic noise. Drummer Rasmus Grosell begins to push a four-on-the-floor rhythm as the song becomes a feature for Hemmersam's electric sitar, only to shift into a paradoxically moody yet rhythmically focused section where Taylor's arpeggiated keyboards underpin Vogel's lyrical solo.

Even when the meter is irregular, as it is on the all-too-brief "Joe Hill's Recorder, Taylor's memorable melodies provide a hook to hang on. Taylor's work is sometimes reminiscent of Mike Oldfield, similarly building layer upon layer of instruments to create songs that retain a surprising immediacy, even though they're clearly being constructed over time. "Lost Title centers around a repetitive arpeggio, but Taylor's layers of piano, synthesizers and guitars, along with Vogel's saxophones and clarinet, create a vividly orchestral sound. "Vue (Time Bolero) evokes King Crimson's "The Devil's Triangle and "Bolero-The Peacock's Tale —dark and dramatic, though never as chaotic as the former or as overtly jazz-like as the latter.

That Taylor has nearly twenty albums out under his name, Taylor's Universe and Taylor's Free Universe is the real surprise. Oyster's Apprentice is a strong entry point, though it's only one aspect of this surprising discovery's musical talents.


Track Listing: Ghost Reporters; That Strange Plaza; Joe Hill's Recorder; Lost Title; Vue (Time Bolero); Aiolos; Iron Wood; The Arrangement.

Personnel: Karsten Vogel: saxophones, bass clarinet; Jon Hemmersam: guitar, Variax; Robin Taylor: keyboards, guitars, recorders, percussion; Kalle Mathiesen: drums (1,5,8); Rasmus Grosell: drums (2-4,6,7); Louise Nipper: voice (3,5,8).

Title: Oyster's Apprentice | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Marvel of Beauty

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Satoko Fujii Solo CD/LP/Track Review Satoko Fujii Solo
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 17, 2018
Read when the shade is stretched CD/LP/Track Review when the shade is stretched
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2018
Read The Influencing Machine CD/LP/Track Review The Influencing Machine
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 17, 2018
Read Presence CD/LP/Track Review Presence
by Geannine Reid
Published: January 17, 2018
Read Flaneur CD/LP/Track Review Flaneur
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 16, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 16, 2018
Read "Landing" CD/LP/Track Review Landing
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 30, 2017
Read "Peninsular" CD/LP/Track Review Peninsular
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: April 16, 2017
Read "Time for the Dancers" CD/LP/Track Review Time for the Dancers
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 30, 2017
Read "Hourglass" CD/LP/Track Review Hourglass
by Paul Rauch
Published: May 18, 2017
Read "Liquid Melodies" CD/LP/Track Review Liquid Melodies
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 1, 2017
Read "My Iris" CD/LP/Track Review My Iris
by Fiona Ord-Shrimpton
Published: February 18, 2017