(All Album Reviews by ffroyd)
Unlike Experimental Health, Robin Taylor's 1999 CD Heart Disc is technically a solo album even though it features many of the exact same member's as the Taylor's Universe disc recorded the year before. Although there are many similarities to the albums, I'd say that this one has a bit more avant-garde leaning. This is evident from the first track which starts out with a pulsing synth beat and includes some wild vocoder reminiscent of the material on Brian Eno's Nerve Net. It is undeterminable whether the vocals are actually words or the random mumblings of a crazed psychotic.
Karsten Vogel returns with his fantastic saxophone playing here but I must say he is almost overshadowed by trumpet player Hugh Steinmetz. Hugh really smokes on several tracks with a style that I'd compare to early 70s Miles Davis: very frantic and highly energetic. Also returning is drummer Rasmus Grosell, who provides a steady rhythm to most of the tracks and adds some very innovative embellishments as well. There are several other guest appearances on Heart Disc, one of the most notable is Steen Grøntved whose solo on "German Foot Blues" reminds me a little of Zappa's work on guitar. As usual, Taylor himself can be found as the mastermind behind all of the other instruments.
There is a very nice balance of improvised and composed material on the album. Some sections contain wild abrasive playing from all of the instruments and this is excellently offset by quieter passages and tracks. There is an otherworldly atmosphere to much of the album, like it was recorded on a distant planet. I guess this is due in some part to the crazy vocal sections. Not only on "Vatican Heartbeat" but on several songs there are weird vocalized bits that have been run through effects processors, played backwards, or otherwise altered to enhance their strangeness.
While the flavor of this CD may not be to everyone's taste, I believe those that can handle good portions of excellent trumpet and sax soloing along with a generous helping of musical insanity may find this one very appetizing.