Danish jazz-rocker and project juggler Robin Taylor doesn't miss a beat — he's back with a new installment in his Taylor's Universe chronicles (the group's tenth anniversary, to boot). That's not Free Universe, that's a different project, though many of the same musicians overlap. Robin is the general composer, laying everything down on bass, guitar, piano, synths, and a Stringman. Reed wrangler Karsten Vogel is ever-present, picking up a bass clarinet in addition to alto, tenor and soprano saxophones. Six more personalities help bring the futuristic funk to fruition.
Once Again is a pretty cool thigh-slappin' experience. Some parts are smooth, some are rugged, even trippy. "Oyster Jungle" grooves in a far-removed-from-known-civilization manner, with dualled soprano sax & guitar lines slicker than pearls. "Bellahoy" pads its minimalist backbone with a spell of freeform drumming and Taylor's grand piano wigout. "Conference At Bird Mountain" is one of several duo cuts with just Taylor and Vogel; its bouncy ethnic percussion and singsong sax sendoffs portend a Zawinul/Shorter rite of passage, but halfway through, the loop abruptly quits. The void is filled with a melancholic soprano sax solo; slowly, the Stringman creeps out from under the rug and the spritely rhythm textures bop back into place for one massive, synchronized sidestep.
Different from the rest of the pack is the black sheep, "Way Back In '85," which steams forth like an idea picked off of the Schmoelling-era Tangerine Dream Express. With drumming by Mads Hansen, the bright string pad, piano, loop and robust analog bass altogether make the perfect soundtrack chase underscore — Vogel's contribution is subdued and downmixed — the last thing this one requires is a stark sax break. "Lazy B" is another duo cut; the virtual drums sound almost anything but, the Gilmouresque guitar solo really owes nothing to Dave, and Vogel's delicate tenor solo seeks its own shape within the contours of Robin's smoothest arrangement, yet.
Once Again, it sounds like Robin Taylor knows how to seamlessly blend rock (more so) and jazz (less so) motifs with Teutonic electronic tradition in the manner he deems fit. Recommended for those who'd like to hear something a little different within borders and without slacking on serving up melodics.
1. Groop (4:53)
2. Oyster Jungle (4:19)
3. Bellahoy (2:44)
4. Conference At Bird Mountain (9:45)
5. Way Back In '85 (5:58)
6. Suspect Terrain (4:27)
7. Lazy B (8:43)
Total time – 40:52