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Album cover

Taylor s Free Universe - Family Shot

Artist: Taylor s Free Universe
Title: Family Shot
Label: Marvel Of Beauty MOBCD 013
Length(s): 55 minutes
Year(s) of release: 2005
Month of review: [11/2005]

Line up

Pierre Tassone - processed violin, percussion
Kim Menzer - clarinet, trombone, strange flute
Robin Taylor - guitars, loops, manipulations
Peter Friis Nielsen - bass
Lars Juul - drums

Tracks

1) Strategy 2.26
2) M'Fisto Rubberphunk 15.09
3) Angel Stairs 3.37

Nine Nice 'n' Easy Pieces
4) First Piece 0.23
5) Second Piece 0.20
6) Third Piece 0.20
7) Fourth Piece 0.31
8) Fifth Piece 0.40
9) Sixth Piece 1.12
10) Seventh Piece 0.48
11) Eighth Piece 1.36
12) Ninth Piece 3.55
13) Like A Nervous Car Wreck 4.05
14) The Elephant Cure 7.19
15) Z Return 13.05

Summary

Robin Taylor does not seem to have a hard time coming up with new music for one of his bands/ensembles, or even solo. And the quality is continuously high too. This is an album by his free form ensemble.

The music

Strategy is the first track, a rather atmospheric piece with a guitar sounding like a keyboard and people talking. M'Fisto Rubberphunk is a serious track, more than fifteen minutes in length. The opening is dominated by bass and percussion. It shows where the name comes from. Then the clarinet sets in, rather carefully. In fact, this is a slow and funky piece, but also quite atmospheric as the violin and guitar set in. I am reminded of Fripp's Soundscape material here, but a bit more world music like because of the percussion, say Sylvian and Fripp or the softer side of the modern Crim. Halfway, the music dies down even more, and the violin goes to work more. The sound continues to be sparse here. It's all nice and atmospheric, but I prefer a bit more happening.

Angel Stairs continues in this vein, very fiddly and not very exciting. We then come to the Nine Nice 'n' Easy Pieces, the first few of which we run through at high pace: these first pieces are all rather chaotic, sharing the dark somber sound with the earlier tracks, but having more reed instruments running around. On the sixth piece the music becomes more forceful, also because of the guitar setting in. Piece seven is back to bass work and a bit of noodling. Only the ninth piece has a respectable length of almost four minutes. Before that piece number eight is an experimental piece with backward played material. Piece number nine is back to atmospherics, again mainly in the Crimson vein.

Like A Nervous Car Wreck takes us out of the short pieces. With a title like this, you expect some harrowing material, but is all rather psychey and Frippian. The bass is so prominent at the end, that I also had to think of Levin/Gorn/Marotta. The Elephant Cure opens with noodling on the horns, and military drums. The second half is nicer. Here there is a tense brooding feeling, because of the sounds and effects in the back. Z Return is the long closer. A rather percussive and chaotic piece. Again, it does not do much for me. I need more melody and a bit of power too.

Conclusion

This is an album that failed to enthuse me as much as Taylor's other efforts. The main line is a combination of the more atmospheric side of King Crimson and Fripp with a bit of free form improvisation thrown in, comparable to Levin/Gorn/Marotta. The instrumentation is wide, but it all stays uncommittal and vague. Too bad. A bit more rock would have helped for me.

© Jurriaan Hage