(All Album Reviews by Reginod)
I had an earworm the other day, but I couldn't figure out its origin. It was a tune played with a vintage organ sound, and an odd meter, and at first I thought that some old measure of music, from years of listening and collecting, had made its way to the forefront of my gray matter. But then, "Eureka!" . . . . . . . I realized that it was something from the most recent Taylor's Universe CD Kind Of Red. Turns out it was a melody and meter from a tune entitled "Jakriborg" and it featured the trumpet playing of Hugh Steinmetz set amid Robin Taylor's multi-instrumental and compositional talents.
Also contributing to this edition of Taylor's Universe is saxophone player Jakob Mygind, and along with Steinmetz he represents one of the things that I have liked about much of Mr. Taylor's music: he allows these talented wind and reed players to explore the space within his songs. Kind Of Red contains enough coolly-played melodic and harmonic beauty to fit in a dusky, smoke-filled jazz room, upon a bed of stealthy progressive rock, with enough vintage keyboard usage to pique the ear of any curious listener.
Mygind and Steinmetz have a field day astride Taylor's earthy, elegant pieces of music; Mygind delivers a crying solo on the opener "Firestone" and Steinmetz invokes Miles himself with his beautiful interpretations on the wistful "Jakriborg".
Of course it is Taylor that composed, arranged and produced the whole (he took the cover photo as well), and I would opine that it constitutes one of his more accessible albums, from the Crimson-like tension and release of "Crackpot Men", to the avant-garde experimentalism lurking underneath the bouncy rhythmic fabric and plucky sax solo of "Salon Bleu", to the wry humor of the short-lived "Terasso", to the excellent "Tortugas" which juxtaposes a lengthy, Bill Nelson-like experimental sound mosaic with a heavy-rock section dominated by Taylor's wet, slicing guitar riffs.
Besides playing guitar, bass and percussion, Taylor pulled out an impressive array of vintage keyboard instruments to put this music together: grand piano, Hammond organ, Stringman, Mellotron, Rhodes and harmonium, among other sundry devices. Familiar friends Louise Nipper and drummer Klaus Thrane helped engineer and/or mix Kind Of Red and from Tel Aviv, Udi Koomran once again lent his expertise to the mastering process.
It might not have enough fast-paced music to satisfy some tastes, but for this listener Robin Taylor's last few CDs with Taylor's Universe have gotten better each time out, and Kind Of Red continues the trend. Those familiar with Taylor's more harsh, experimental side might be pleasantly surprised, and any lover of old keyboards and moody progressive rock with distinct jazz overtones should give this a try.