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Taylor's Universe: Kind of Red

Danish multi-instrumentalist Robin Taylor has been one of the most prolific musicians/composers of the last two decades, and he's back once again with his band Taylor's Universe on their follow-up to Two-Pack, titled Kind of Red. Joining Taylor (guitars, basses, vintage keyboads, percussion, voices) on this outing is Hugh Steinmetz (trumpet, flugelhorn), Jakob Mygind (saxophones), Klaus Thrane (drums), and Louise Nipper & Jan Fischer (guest voices on "Salon Bleu"). Normally, much of the Taylor's Universe material is jazz fusion, free-jazz, and avant-garde based, but on Kind of Red the band takes a real dive into classic prog sounds with a sprinkling of sultry jazz, and it's a formula that works out quite well.

Opener "Firestone" has a rhythm not unlike the powerful closing passage to the classic Genesis epic "Supper's Ready", with the addition of haunting keyboards and lovely sax solos. "Jakriborg" features gorgeous piano from Taylor and more of the soothing sax lines courtesy of Mygind, plus some metallic guitar chords in spots and searing trumpet, making for an enjoyable prog/jazz/metal ride that is unlike anything heard from this act previously. Lovers of the Mellotron will get a kick out of the chilling "Crackpot Men", as ominoius waves of the holy prog keyboard battle with squawking sax and pounding drums before the rest of the band come crashing in with complex passages that sound like a marriage between Gentle Giant and Weather Report. Stunning stuff. Those heavenly Mellotron sounds once again dominate on the atmospheric "Sunday Image", while the quirky "Salon Bleu" mixes pop and jazz for an enjoyable little ditty. Taylor lets his guitar do the talking on the brief "Terasso", as crushing riffs and searing lead lines mesh with Mygind's soaring sax and Thrane's insistent drum fills. Shifting gears, Taylor's array of keyboards shine on "Tortugas", as synths, organ, and Mellotron fill the mix in a great homage to classic 70's prog rock. Kind of Red closes with "Lost in Jakriborg", a dark prog number dripping with melancholy, as haunting trumpet from Steinmetz and chilling Mellotron flutes provide the engaging lead instruments.

Though most of Robin Taylor's recordings in the past have provided a wealth of styles and sounds, with Kind of Red he's really jumped head first into classic 70's progressive rock and fusion, and the results are a wonderful album that is one of early 2012's big surprises. I can easily see fans of vintage Genesis, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, and Van Der Graaf Generator really getting into this CD. Recommended!

Track Listing
1) Firestone 6:31
2) Jakriborg 6:34
3) Crackpot Men 5:49
4) Sunday Image 6:01
5) Salon Bleu 5:32
6) Terasso 1:07
7) Tortugas 7:33
8) Lost in Jakriborg 4:28

Added: July 14th 2012
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 2398
Language: english

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Taylor's Universe: Kind of Red
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-07-14 07:10:18
My Score:

Whether through Taylor's Universe, Taylor's Free Universe, Art Cinema, or purely as a solo artist, multi-instrumentalist Robin Taylor is known for creating beautifully crafted music, that is sublimely arranged and stunningly produced. Kind Of Red is no different. Across those projects, Taylor covers everything from out and out fusion through to hard rock and much in between and while this new effort touches on many of the bases he can cover, Kind Of Red is at its heart a mix of progressive rock and fusion and even though it may not be the longest album ever released (not a bad thing to be honest), there isn't a single note wasted.

Taylor himself handles guitar, bass, voice, percussion and "vintage" keyboards (as well as toy keyboards) across the eight sumptuous tracks, but in truth, he more often places himself in the background, allowing the grooves, beats and sumptuous solo work from saxophonist Jakob Mygind and trumpet and flugelhorn player Hugh Steinmetz to dominate in a variety of styles. In fact the brass on this album often takes on the melody line that a vocalist would usually cover, but in the case of this album, with much more colour and breadth.

All eight tracks stand on their own merits, but while the album works best as a whole, I do find myself gravitating back to the amazingly languid atmosphere of "Sunday Image", a song I could listen to all week without ever tiring of it. Much like the rest of the disc, the construct appears simple, with straight, simple beats (courtesy of the excellent Klaus Thrane), laying a foundation from which Taylor's keyboards build a deep, lush atmospheric layer that the amazing trumpet lines swoop and soar over, echoing melancholically as they do. Cleverly the whole album feels a little downbeat and maudlin, while leaving you feeling totally uplifted and immersed in the sounds it creates. "Jakriborg" adds a growling bass groove to one of the busier percussion led tracks, although again it is the counterpunch of brass floating across the keyboard melodies that makes for another unforgettable soundscape. Add to that the more overtly jazzy "Salon Bleu", where sax and voices punctuate the ever climbing scales of bass and keys, and Kind Of Red becomes an album as likely to appeal to jazz lovers as it is 70's prog rock devotees.

The cover may suggest some young upstart rockers, while the album title hints at a play on a Miles Davis theme. However in reality Kind Of Red is as close as jazz fusion will ever get to the prog rock of heavyweights such as Genesis, or King Crimson, brimming with beautiful hooks and lush themes, but burning with a deep, dazzling intensity as it does so.

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