When it comes to prolificness, Scandinavian composer and multi-instrumentalist Robin Taylor may be independent progressive-music's new Rick Ray. Between solo and band projects, Taylor has released no fewer than 23 albums since 1991. The latest is Terra Nova, an eclectic, 45-minute instrumental tour de force featuring the Taylor's Universe collective, and an album that is best digested track by track.
Taylor combines his knack for progressive rock and free jazz on songs like "Meccano" (with a bursting, cacophonous finale) and "Land of Lamps" (a slow-burn scorcher), while once again calling on Secret Oyster sax man Karsten Vogel to complement Taylor's arrangement whims. Particularly impressive is the presence of Hugh Steinmetz on trumpet and flugelhorn for "They Usually Come at Night," a mournful piece with signature brass leads, parts of which could serve as a requiem for post-Katrina New Orleans. Fleeting female vocals subtly float in and out of many of these eight songs, and just when you think the music is retreating, as on the pretty piano introduction to "Metropolarization," Taylor goes ballistic with all sorts of odd sound effects made by what could very well be a kazoo-and-shaker orchestra. (Actually, Taylor's too smart for that — finding new noises to coax out of instruments like the harmonium, glockenspiel and snake charmer's flute.)
In short, Terra Nova covers adventurous musical territory that like-minded listeners should find appealing.
1) Terra Nova
2) Amhage West
4) They Usually Come at Night
6) Land of Lamps
7) Ruby Wires
8) City of Greed