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Album cover

Robin Taylor - X Position Vol. 1

Artist: Robin Taylor
Title: X Position Vol. 1
Label: Marvel of Beauty MOBCD 012
Length(s): 50 minutes
Year(s) of release: 2005
Month of review: [11/2005]

Line up

Robin Taylor - instruments
Karsten Vogel - sax
Pierre Tassone - violin
Jan Marsfeldt - keyboards
Mads Hansen - drums
Johan Segerberg - bass
Kalle Mathiesen - drums
Louise Nipper - voice
Jan Fischer - voice

Tracks

1) Black Country Ruffle 7.58
2) Hi Life! (For Maria) 5.05
3) Don't Drink & Drive (While On Duty) 1.52
4) Baroque Ideas 3.53
5) Bill Knudsen 1.50
6) Ether Spirit 8.24
7) City Life And Blah Blah Blah 8.23
8) Lass Mich Los 12.21

Summary

An album filled with left-overs from numerous recording sessions. The name implies there may be more to come as Taylor is cleaning out his closet.

The music

Black Country Ruffle opens with the voice of Nipper breathing hard. Then the electric guitar and sax set in, as if in conversation. Underneath the keyboards play some menacing tones, and then the beat sets in and the music starts to flow. With this kind of musical backdrop, the guitarist and sax player can do what they like, merely accentuating, colouring in. Halfway we enter scary territory, in fact, the music can be almost like Present in places. We end with the voice of Nipper.

Hi Life! (For Maria) is a bouncy and friendly track with a great melody. The music flows very well, lined by the melodious sax of Vogel. An excellent song. Don't Drink & Drive (While On Duty) is a relatively short but tense piece of work, with the pace riding high.

With Baroque Ideas we return to the majestic and moody feel, wedged in between two rather frolic passages. There is a sadness to the music here though. The 'shattered glass' keyboard work is distinctive and fits in really well. I have to admit that baroque is among my least favourite types of music, but fortunately there is nothing that reminds me of baroque music here. Bill Knudsen is a melodious sax oriented piece, a bit of a lament and reminding me of those American television series where a form of melodious jazz is used as a signature tune. A bit mellow thus, but it is short and it works.

Ether Spirit opens gurgly sounds and bird squeaks. It is surprising how easily I recognize these songs having played them quite some time ago, and a LOT of albums in between. It shows the strength of the themes and the compositions. There is a certain tension to music again, and the music is difficult to link up with others (a good thing, but harder for me). The violin is prominent here, so Ponty or Goodman are now likely suspects, even it weren't for the modern classical approach. I also often hear the spirit of King Crimson wandering around. A chaotic track, but the backdrop keeps it all together. Halfway the pace goes up, and the power sets in with rhtyhm guitars and pounding drums. Excellent stuff.

City Life And Blah Blah Blah seems more like a live piece, it is looser and has a live sound. The sax wails, the percussion is accidental. Compared to the other tracks this is more in the vein of Taylor's Free Universe. The sound is very much inspired by the soundscapes of Fripp. Lass Mich Los is similar. These tracks suffer a bit from lesser sound quality: some of the instruments sound quite far away. The sax is very fiddly.

Conclusion

Even the left-overs are great. Robin Taylor solo is the right mix of tense instrumental work, jazzrock and a bit of experiment. This kind of material is much more to my liking than his Taylor's Free Universe work which is a bit too uncommital for my tastes. In fact, many of the songs here have excellent melodies, and the necessary sharp edges to make it come recommended, even though the final two tracks are not very exciting (they are more in the vein of Taylor's Free Universe).

© Jurriaan Hage