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Taylor's Universe: Return To Whatever

Glenn Astarita By

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Danish multi-instrumentalist Robin Taylor has a soft spot in his heart for the glory days of 1970s, Canterbury rock fare. The differentiator lies within his translucent mergence of the old with the new. However, noticeably absent from Taylor's Universe is Danish reedman and ex-Secret Oyster saxophonist Karsten Vogel, who has been a mainstay with the unit for several years. With Return To Whatever, he's replaced by Carsten Sindvald for a progressive-rock jamboree, highlighted by Taylor's memorable compositions and clever arrangements.

The band's overall muse incorporates crunching backbeats, phased guitars, whimsical organ parts and yearning horns. Yet they carve out a loping and ethereal blues walk, featuring Taylor's mesmeric piano voicings on "July 6th," where the beguiling prog- rock hook nicely balances out the rhythm section's mid-tempo pulse. Moreover, Taylor's soaring laser guitar lines add a compelling edge. In other regions of sound, the unit doles out attractive thematic forays and polytonal background treatments.

Violinist Pierre Tassone adds some quiet thunder on several pieces. But they comingle an airy, Canterbury rock-drenched motif with mystical flutes and heavy rock patterns on "Earth," featuring Sindvald's spirited sax phrasings. Taylor and his band devise an all-embracing throwback to the golden days of prog-rock with a contemporary spin and, of course, a personal touch that offers a new flavor to older wine. More importantly, the leader's magnetic compositions beckon repeated listens due to his penchant for building motifs centered upon catchy melodies and the musicians' energized riffing.

Track Listing: Mooncake; July 6th; Haunted Yellow House; The Atlas Clock; Earth; Pink Island; Mooncake-reprise.

Personnel: Carsten Sindvald: saxophones; Pierre Tassone: violin; Michael Denner: guitars; Robin Taylor: laser guitar, keyboards, percussion, etc.; Flemming Muus Tranberg: bass; Klaus Thrane: drums; Tine Lilholt: Celtic harp, flute; Louise Nipper: voice.

Title: Return To Whatever | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Mals

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