[Marvel of Beauty, 2017]
Intro: Giannis Zavradinos
Translation: Alexandros Mantas
20 / 12 / 2017
Taylor’s Universe is a magnificent avant-prog group from Denmark under the guidance of the much-talented and multi-instrumentalist Robin C Taylor. At times, in order to realize best their musical vision, a lot of remarkable musicians such as Κarsten Vogel (Secret Oyster, Burnin’ Red Ivanhoe) and Michael Denner (Mercyful Fate / King Diamond among others) have paraded through their ranks.
Their career, which spans more than twenty years, features fifteen studio albums, famous for their unwavering quality and consistency that do justice to musicians. Discipline and ambience in equal measures is the common ground of these releases; a truly creative yet “smooth” platform of expression, free of the typical “digressions” and singularities we normally bump into this particular genre.
In this year’s Almost Perfected which is released through Marvel of Beauty –the label that Taylor himself has founded- the band adhered to the recipe of success with impressive results; fresh ideas, crystal-clear sound and meticulous arrangements which support absolutely the themes and their relaxed development. Interesting guitar outbreaks interchange with keyboards that complete the multi-color palette of the melody either as pads (organ, mellotron, piano) or as lead instruments (minimoog). The vocal harmonies also work well and more than often bring Northettes to mind (obviously it is not accidental that they are called… Taylorettes) and a tight but economical rhythmic basis sets the limits and defines the frame for the skillful musicians to unfold their talent. What gives more oomph is the saxophone that takes a leaf out of Wayne Shorter’s book when the music of Weather Report was ethereal and exotic.
The natural flow of the four tunes, but also their balanced coherence is so emphatic that the result could be a single suite without a trace of repetition. Mean Attack is a punchy kick-off that develops gracefully thanks to the changes of mood from start to finish. Things relax a bit and they become more “analytical” in Definitely Greek and the bittersweet Remembering Johannesburg takes us to more nostalgic soundscapes. The circle becomes complete with the mesmerizing Dark Side of Alec where the main soloists bid us farewell one after the other with a beautiful bow until the songs fades out.
Robin C Taylor drives safely the vehicle of Taylor’s Universe and its course is respected and universally acknowledged. In Almost Perfected the 70s references are more than ever and this time they are more in the vein of progressive rock / fusion, successfully blended with modern aesthetic. The band has stricken a happy medium, unattached to obsessions of the past and pointless rehashes, always maintaining its unique identity. Let’s just hope that inspiration will always come together with growth and further progress to dodge the peril of stagnation that recipes often conceal. Fortunately there is no clue so far that something like this is on the cards and we can enjoy one more great album of theirs. Therefore, we beg to differ with Taylor’s Universe about the title.
8 / 10
Τaylor’s Universe return to the four-song format in their fiftieth album, something they did on the marvelous Evidence for the last time. The musical vehicle of Robin Taylor changes direction once more. Avant-prog takes a backseat and pure prog rock takes the lead. The development of the songs is slow-paced, emanating successfully a wonderful atmosphere. Nevertheless, even though the vision of Robin Taylor is aesthetically satisfactory and the playing of all the musicians who participate is impeccable, the intense laid-back nature of the songs is somewhat wearisome. The opener Mean Attack is an exception with many and abrupt changes but overall the compositional weight that Taylor has accustomed us to, is partially replaced by an enjoyable, yet pointlessly extensive jamming character.
In conclusion, Almost Perfected is a step ahead after the weak From Scratch, but falls short of their top-notch albums like Certain Undiscoveries, Soundwall, Kind of Red and Evidence.
6.5 / 10