(All Album Reviews by davis)
And so it’s 3 a.m. Wednesday on a Friday afternoon. You’ve slept through a full day’s work and you see a 6-year-old adult in the mirror. The clock says 1994. Your stomach is full so you wolf down a short stack of scrambled cereal, fresh from the hog. You haven’t left home but you have ventured into Taylor’s Universe, home of Danish composer, multi-instrumentalist (and various other titles) Robin Taylor and his cosmic musical cohorts. There, or here on the Taylor’s Universe debut, you will encounter the sounds of weird gatherings, weddings nobody knows about, respectable garlic, and rumors that turn out to be facts, among other things.
The buzz is true; this is about an hour’s worth of instrumental music, like without vocals (or 99.8 percent anyway), unless one considers the crowd noise and laughter of the calliope-driven “Pfiffer’s Dead (Pulling Iron)” as a song with quasi vocals. The grim, dramatic, and ergo seemingly ironically titled, “Joie De Vivre,” could fit like a perfect glove onto the hand of a suspenseful thriller of a crime film.
For those of us who love it when the sun pours down while the rain is shining, there is “Flemming Junker/Junker’s Slaughterhouse.” Confusing, disorienting, and wondrous, this number is part funk, part typewriter music, part sci-fi, crime noir, and early rock and roll. If YOU figure it out, don’t tell me; just savor the flavor. Speaking of flavor, “Mr. Garlic” is a four and one-half minute labyrinthine journey in itself and…well, let’s just say you ought to hold your ear’s hand along the way. If you happen to ride through “Jeff’s Office” on a pair of speakers with rollers, expect screaming faxes, erratic pulses, irate but ecstatic horns, fussy wind chimes, bitchin’ and exuberant guitar, murmuring and shattering glass percussion, altruistic keyboards, and more horns, albeit young and idealistic ones. As much as any other song here, “Meetings” represents the humidity factor, barometric pressure, likelihood of extraterrestrial invasion, short- and long-term projection of community standards, and both repulsion and embracing of whatever the future holds. It simply needs to be heard.
No matter what day of the month or time of year it is, the Universe is at its most accessible on “Saturday Night,” whose idiosyncrasies are limited to some unusual rhythm section timing and bits of guitar and trumpet in flight. Those with more conventional taste might find this one is a more comfortable fit than much of the music Taylor and his planetary sidemen create.
An unusual place Taylor’s Universe certainly is; a place where the past and future are recorded for the present. It is (or might be) Satchmo, Frank Zappa, and John Lurie experimenting with musicians not yet born.