Does this make sense: Exit William Orbit, Enter Robin Taylor—? Like Orbit, Taylor plays synths & guitars, but is primarily a guitarist, whereas Orbit — who produced an album by a hi-profile pop icon, and has a slew of "ambient rock" forays to his credit — is more of a synth guy. Apparently Samplicity stands in sharp contrast to Taylor's edgier, more frenzied compositions with his band, the Free Universe. For now, this is fine, because this reviewer never once thought he'd hear anything as remotely as cool as Orbit's Strange Cargo albums, again!
A one-man, two-hands project, Robin Taylor plays guitar, a real Hammond M100 organ & Roland synthesizers, and programs drumloops. "Black Country" kicks off the proceedings with all the flair of a TV show theme composed by Jan Hammer or Michael Hoeing (that's a compliment): a rock drum groove, staccato organ lead, mangled flageolet notes (a flageolet is a flutelike instrument), and synth bass add up to one finger-snapping experience.
"BTI" bears a remarkably similar vibe to William Orbit's "The Mighty Limpopo" (from Strange Cargo [album 1]). That track, like this one, bleeds a slow ebb of sunken grandeur that permeates your core like tendrils from a parasitic being, taking over (that's a compliment). The mantra-like groove and wavering tones of "Fractalism" mirrors a meeting of Frippisms, Vidna Obmana's "dronefestations" (my term, not his), and the space rock of Dave Russell, aka Paradox. "Burnt Forest Island" is an extended atmospheric interlude marked by soft, glassy synth timbres, an intermittent legato piano melody, and an eerie theremin-like presence that creeps in after the five minute mark. "…Island" crosses over into a groovier, jazzier realm near the ten minute mark with Karsten Vogel's soprano sax lead and programmed — but very effective — drum samples. Nicely done.
Taylor's work doesn't get quite as deep as Orbit's finest (by no means an easy feat), but he's steadying for a close fly-by, and this cat is definitely one to keep on your radar.
1. Black Country
2. Lavender Mist
5. February Pain
6. Burnt Forest Island
7. Ambient Isles
Total time: 50:20