The ever busy Robin Taylor and his cast of musicians that he likes to call Taylor's Universe are back with their latest platter of jazzy, proggy goodness titled Worn Out. You have to wonder if the title is indicative of the state of mind of Taylor after churning out dozens of albums over the last two decades, or whether he and the gang are just a little 'worn out' after putting so much into this latest recording? I'm going with the latter, as knowing Taylor he always has plenty of new musical ideas up his sleeve and the whole team have really poured their hearts into this one.
Unlike Taylor's Free Universe, Robin's 'free-jazz' version of this outfit, Taylor's Universe go for a more melodic, streamlined jazz sound mixed mixed with some progressive rock. Joining Taylor (guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion) are Jakob Mygind & Karsten Vogel (saxes), Hugh Steinmetz (trumpet, flugelhorn), Jon Hemmersam (guitar), Klaus Thrane (drums), and Louise Nipper (vocals on 1 track). With just six tracks, all falling between the 4 and 10+ minute range, there's plenty of space for the players to branch out, explore some adventurous territory, but still create some memorable melodies. We've heard Vogel before, as he's been on the scene now for ages delivering his stunning sax lines, as well as teaming up with Taylor for many years, so it should come as no surprise that his work, alongside Mygind, is quite good here. You can hear some lovely saxophone on the adventurous, near 11-minute Munich" as well as on the avant-garde jazz of "Imaginary Church", opposite some ripping guitar work. Steinmetz also does some incredible stuff here, especially his soaring lines on the vibrant opener "Floating Rats". Thrane's military drum beats lead in the alluring "Jens in Afghanistan", a tune that starts out majestic and quickly morphs into a groove laden mix of free-jazz sax bursts and solid progressive rock rhythms. You also have on this album the wonderful "Sergeant Pepperoni", a real whimsical piece complete with engaging melodies and some expert playing by the whole cast, including some nice guitar solos from Taylor and Hemmersam, and some breezy, jazzy melodies playing off the pulsating prog grooves on "Cruelty in Words", a real fun, engaging composition.
With Worn Out, it's once again the case of quantity equals quality for Robin Taylor and his Taylor's Universe group. No matter how quickly these guys crank out releases, it's always well crafted, enjoyable instrumental music time and time again.
1) Floating Rats
3) Imaginary Church
4) Cruelty in Words
5) Jens in Afghanistan
6) Sergeant Pepperoni