3

Taylor's Universe: Worn Out

Dave Wayne By

Sign in to view read count
Taylor's Universe: Worn Out One can only hope that Robin Taylor was being ironic when he titled his latest collection Worn Out. Musically, it follows in the footsteps of his recent recordings with Taylor's Universe; Kind of Red (Marvel of Beauty, 2012) and Return to Whatever (Marvel of Beauty, 2009). But there's a freshness, fire and vigor here that suggests the Danish multi-instrumentalist and composer still has plenty of lead in his pencil. The personnel on Worn Out is also largely the same as on Taylor's recent recordings. Klaus Thrane's drumming is heavy and aggressive, yet light-footed enough to impart a jazzy feel. Returning soloists include the über-versatile saxophonist Jakob Mygind (ss/ts) and the silky-toned trumpeter Hugh Steinmetz.

Notable is the return of saxophonist Karsten Vogel—a veteran of the Danish jazz and prog-rock scene who worked with Steinmetz and John Tchicai in that country's premier 60s psych band, Burnin' Red Ivanhoe. He'd also worked extensively with Taylor through the 90s and 00s, but seemed to drop out of sight as of late. His electronically-processed alto saxophone gives the dark atmospheres of "Munich" a sizzling electronic edge, and his soulful alto on "Sergeant Pepperoni" is a pliant foil for guitarist Jon Hemmersam's outré stylings.

Hemmersam is, in fact, one of Taylor's newest musical partners and he provides considerable improvisational fire on Worn Out. A musical polymath who's worked extensively with Dame Evelyn Glennie and violist Szilard Mezei, Hemmersam's guitar solos have an emotionally direct, visceral impact reminiscent of what one gets from 70s-era John McLaughlin and Robert Fripp. Stylistically, however, there's a lot more going on in Hemmersam's playing than old school prog and fusion—he has a distinctly free-associative avant- garde approach to the guitar that's unlike anyone else's. This tendency provides quite a bit of contrast to the uniformly excellent, but more conventionally jazzy, horn soloists. During an exchange with Mygind on "Cruelty in Words," for example, he completes the saxophonist's bluesy phrases with some twisted blues of his own before launching into ecstatic, almost atonal, flurries of notes that both complement and contrast the cheerily upbeat nature of the tune.

Taylor's compositions on Worn Out are bit more varied than those on the preceding CD, Kind of Red, though they hew largely to a similar set of musical parameters. Whistle-able, even jaunty melodies and chiming repeating figures are perched atop brooding cinematic landscapes comprised of heavy drums, multi-layered guitars and an ever-changing palette of analogue keyboards. Though the tempos of these pieces are moderate-to-slow, the music never plods. Horn and guitar solos pop up in odd places, and harmonic / rhythmic changes occur when you least expect them to.

Perhaps the most remarkable track here is the phantasmagoric "Jens in Afghanistan," wherein a sweetly goofy Mellotron melody is layered over a collage of martial drums, several radio talk-show broadcasts, and Steinmetz' low- volume free-jazz musings. All of this is upended by an absolutely stomping 9/8 groove with Steinmetz' trumpet still fluttering amidst odd keyboard and guitar sounds. Despite its oddness, it works. Much the same could be said of the entire CD—it's the sort of music that reveals something new about itself with each successive listen.


Track Listing: Floating Rats; Munich; Imaginary Church; Cruelty in Words; Jens in Afghanistan; Sergeant Pepperoni.

Personnel: Robin Taylor: guitars, basses, keyboards, percussion, allsorts; Klaus Thrane: drums; Jakob Mygind: soprano and tenor saxophones; Karsten Vogel: soprano and alto saxophones; Hugh Steinmetz: trumpet, flugelhorn; Jon Hemmersam: guitar (all solos); Louise Nipper: voice (2).

Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Marvel of Beauty


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Positive Changes" CD/LP/Track Review Positive Changes
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 29, 2016
Read "Momentum" CD/LP/Track Review Momentum
by Dave Wayne
Published: November 18, 2016
Read "Rivers" CD/LP/Track Review Rivers
by James Nadal
Published: June 13, 2016
Read "Live At Maxwell's" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Maxwell's
by Budd Kopman
Published: September 23, 2016
Read "Cinema Spiral" CD/LP/Track Review Cinema Spiral
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 31, 2016
Read "Pass It On" CD/LP/Track Review Pass It On
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: May 11, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!