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TAYLOR'S UNIVERSE

RIO/Avant-Prog • Denmark


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Taylor's Universe picture
Taylor's Universe biography
TAYLOR'S UNIVERSE is a Danish based studio project formed by Jan Marsfeldt and proficent composer and multi-instrumentalist Robin Taylor in 1993. With the addition of drummer Mads Hansen the central core of this project were assembled, and in quick succession the albums Taylor's Universe and Pork saw the light of day, in 1994 and 1996 respectively.

Changes were afoot though. When involved in Hugh Steinmetz lead project Communio Musica in 1996, Taylor got in touch with saxophonist Karsten Vogel, best known for his tenures in Danish 70's fusion bands Secret Oyster and Burnin' Red Ivanhoe. While Taylor worked on his next Taylor's Universe production some time later, he decided to contact Vogel, asking for permission to use some Burnin Red Ivanhoe related material. Vogel more or less invited himself to participate in the recording of the album instead, resulting in the album Experimental Health issued in 1998.

Taylor's Universe was put on hold following this album, as Taylor concentrated his efforts on solo albums and other projects the next few years. In 2004 Taylor's Universe returned with the album Once Again though, followed by Oyster's Apprentice in 2005, Certain Undiscoveries in 2006 and Terra Nova in 2007. As was the case from the release of Experimental Health the core of this project now consisted primarily of Taylor and Vogel; but in 2008 one more major change came to be.

As a passionate music lover Taylor visits record shops on regular occasions, amongst them a second hand vinyl one run by a certain Michael Denner - best known as the guitarist of heavy metal bands Mercyful Fate and King Diamond back in the second half of the 1980's. At some point in time Denner mentioned that he'd like to record with Taylor, and he was invited to the recording of the album Soundwall, issued in 2008. While Denner was coming Vogel, at least for now, ended his collaboration with Taylor's Universe at this point in time; first and foremost due to the revival of his old band Secret Oyster.

Later in 2008 Taylor became involved with, and after some time took charge of, a side project called Art Cinema. Most of the musicians involved in this venture hooked up with Taylor and Denner to form a completely revamped version of Taylor's Universe, and in 2009 this new edition of Taylor's studio project was ready with the album Return to Whatever, issued early in the year by Russian label MALS Records.

Taylor's Universe official website

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Taylor's Universe by Taylor's Universe (2002-08-20)Taylor's Universe by Taylor's Universe (2002-08-20)
CD Baby
Audio CD$60.94
From Scratch by Taylor's UniverseFrom Scratch by Taylor's Universe
CD Baby
Audio CD$99.90
Across the UniverseAcross the Universe
Import
CD Baby 2015
Audio CD$13.31
$13.30 (used)
Pork by Taylor's Universe (1996-01-01)Pork by Taylor's Universe (1996-01-01)
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Audio CD$39.99
Kind of Red by Taylor's Universe (2012-03-06)Kind of Red by Taylor's Universe (2012-03-06)
Imports
Audio CD$71.49
Oyster's Apprentice by Taylor's Universe (2005-01-01)Oyster's Apprentice by Taylor's Universe (2005-01-01)
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Audio CD$57.03
Once Again by Taylor's Universe (2004-10-05)Once Again by Taylor's Universe (2004-10-05)
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Audio CD$40.88
$936.70 (used)
Artificial Joy by Taylor's Universe (2010-04-20)Artificial Joy by Taylor's Universe (2010-04-20)
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Audio CD$73.10
From ScratchFrom Scratch
Import
CD Baby 2015
Audio CD$13.04
$13.03 (used)
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TAYLOR'S UNIVERSE discography


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TAYLOR'S UNIVERSE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.74 | 14 ratings
Taylor's Universe
1994
3.07 | 20 ratings
Pork
1996
3.73 | 23 ratings
Experimental Health (with Karsten Vogel)
1998
3.45 | 21 ratings
Once Again (with Karsten Vogel)
2004
3.98 | 12 ratings
Oyster's Apprentice (with Karsten Vogel)
2005
4.30 | 31 ratings
Certain Undiscoveries
2006
3.51 | 19 ratings
Terra Nova
2007
4.03 | 24 ratings
Soundwall
2008
4.09 | 28 ratings
Return to Whatever
2009
3.65 | 21 ratings
Artificial Joy
2009
3.96 | 58 ratings
Kind of Red
2012
4.03 | 51 ratings
Worn Out
2013
4.20 | 76 ratings
Evidence
2013
3.97 | 23 ratings
From Scratch
2015

TAYLOR'S UNIVERSE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

TAYLOR'S UNIVERSE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

TAYLOR'S UNIVERSE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.99 | 11 ratings
Across The Universe
2015

TAYLOR'S UNIVERSE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

TAYLOR'S UNIVERSE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 From Scratch by TAYLOR'S UNIVERSE album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.97 | 23 ratings

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From Scratch
Taylor's Universe RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars This is one of two releases by Taylor's Universe in 2015, but in many ways, this is the direct follow-on from 2013's 'Evidence' in that the main core of the band stayed the same, with Karsten Vogel (sax, clarinet), Claus B°hling (guitars), Thomas Thor Vider° Ulstrup (MiniMoog), Robin Taylor (guitars, keyboards, bass, flute, percussion) and Klaus Thrane (drums). There were also some guests involved this time, including saxophonist Jakob Mygind (who appeared on the other TU release of 2015, 'Across The Universe') and long-time collaborator Carsten Sindvald (also sax). There isn't much in the way of guitar from Robin himself on this album, rather he defers to others while ensuring that the music is going exactly the way he wants it to.

Robin brings in the right people for the right job, so a song may just feature him and Claus, while another has Karsten on bass clarinet, Jakob on soprano sax and Carsten on baritone and well as Finn, Thomas, Robin and Klaus to provide a meaty complex sound. The use of a MiniMoog as the main keyboards provides a distinct style to the overall sound, which as always is complex and constructed in such a way that the tangents always make complete musical sense. Three different singers provide the wordless vocals, but many of the songs are completely instrumental, and when the voices are used it is always for an effect ? never the main driving part of the piece. It is relaxing, it is interesting, it is melodic and can be challenging, yet as with all of Robin's releases one is all the richer for having heard it. Yet another great release to add to his canon.

 Across The Universe by TAYLOR'S UNIVERSE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2015
3.99 | 11 ratings

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Across The Universe
Taylor's Universe RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars Robin is one of the most prolific artists I have come across, normally working under one of three different guises, and for this release he has put together a special line-up of the band. The album itself contains a selection of highlights from the later repertoire of Taylor's Universe ? here in altered 2015 versions: rearranged, partly re-recorded, remixed and remastered. No room for Karsten Vogel or Carsten Sindvald, both of whom have been important members in the past, but he has instead again relied on Jakob Mygrind to provide dynamic saxophone and has brought in two more guitarists to add weight to the sound, in the form of famed Danish musician John Sund and Frank Carvalho (from Etcetera), neither of whom have recorded with him in the past. Thomas Thor Vider° Ulstrup is again providing synths, while Klaus Thrane is still here on drums, and Louise Nipper and Jan Fischer provide some wordless vocals.

Robin, as always, is at the very centre, providing whatever musical textures and nuances that are required, working as the conductor and organiser to ensure that everything is focussed and finessed to perfection. With as much in common with jazz thinking as it does with progressive rock, Robin continues to operate at a very high level indeed, creating music that is thought provoking and intense while staying accessible and dynamic. As with all his releases, this won't be for everyone, but those who appreciate this type of music will find a great deal here to enjoy.

 Artificial Joy by TAYLOR'S UNIVERSE album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.65 | 21 ratings

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Artificial Joy
Taylor's Universe RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars 'Artificial Joy' was the second album from Taylor's Universe in 2009, and while the line-up is similar to the one that appeared on 'Return To Whatever' of course there are some changes. Although the comment appears in the booklet 'For maximum effect, play it loud!', and Michael Denner is again on hand this isn't nearly as rocky as one may imagine from that comment. There are elements, especially in Michael's tortured solo in "Atmosfear", where progressive elements stand out but for each of these there are also the more restrained layerings I have come to expect. Robin's keyboards are at the heart and in many ways this is the perfect follow-on to the previous album although with not quite as much edge and excitement.

It is an extremely cohesive album, with some wonderful clarinet solos and great interaction with the sax. One of the huge strengths of Taylor is that he brings together musicians and instruments in a way that totally makes sense. The previous album to this one featured violin as a foil against the sax, here it is a clarinet. Denner played on six out of seven tracks on the previous album yet here has a much smaller role allowing Taylor the opportunity to play some guitar of his own. Robin is very much a composer, a bandleader and arranger, who has a vision for each album and yet again this is one that is well worth discovering.

 Return to Whatever by TAYLOR'S UNIVERSE album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.09 | 28 ratings

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Return to Whatever
Taylor's Universe RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars Robin's first release of 2009 saw a new version of Taylor's Universe, with no sign of Karsten Vogel and the use of many of the participants of his Art Cinema project including the return of Michael Denner (King Diamond/ Mercyful Fate). The other musicians on this project are Flemming Muus Tranberg (basses), Carsten Sindvald (saxophones), Klaus Thrane (drums), Louise Nipper (voice), Pierre Tassone (violin) and Tine Lilholt (flute, harp) Also, this CD has been released on the Russian Mals label instead of Robin's own, and is a superb digipak. But what of the music? This is easily one of Robin's finest moments, directing the musicians around him to bring together controlled chaos, melody and dischord, note density and space ? often in the same few bars of a song.

This is music for the music lover, whether it be jazz or progressive, with elements of Metal and avante-garde so that the whole is a discovery, a journey if you will. There are times when the brass just soars, at others it is more restrained, while at the heart of it all Robin provides simple yet poignant keyboards. Essential.

 Oyster's Apprentice (with Karsten Vogel) by TAYLOR'S UNIVERSE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.98 | 12 ratings

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Oyster's Apprentice (with Karsten Vogel)
Taylor's Universe RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars Well, there can be no doubt who Taylor's 18th album was a tribute for, namely Secret Oyster whose leader Karsten Vogel is again credited. This album sees Robin stating when the songs were originally written and just the first and last are from 2005, while the others go back as far as three numbers from 1976. But strangely enough it is probably one of the most forward sounding albums of his canon. Here Robin is striking a strong balance between jazz and symphonic progressive rock, adding to both styles without diluting from either so that fans of both genres are able to fully take this album on board. It is incredibly open and inviting, melodic and layered while also containing the space and casual structure so often the important aspects of his work.

It is instrumental music that is never boring, always intriguing, yet not as challenging as some. It could never be considered middle of the road but here Robin has produced an album that will get far more attention just because it is so easy to listen to, packed full of enjoyable melodic stories and interludes. It is polished yet still contains the spontaneity of his more experimental albums. Overall if one is looking for a place to start investigating the vast amount of work Robin has produced then this could well be the place to start.

 Once Again (with Karsten Vogel) by TAYLOR'S UNIVERSE album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.45 | 21 ratings

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Once Again (with Karsten Vogel)
Taylor's Universe RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

3 stars 'Once Again' was Robin's 15th album, released in 2004, and again is credited to Taylor's Universe with Karsten Vogel. Alongside Robin and Karsten, this time we saw Kim Menzer (didjeridoo), Pierre Tassone (violin), Louise Nipper (voice), Mads Hansen (drums), Rasmus Grosell (drums) and Kalle Mathiesen (drums). This was the first time that Mads had recorded with Robin since 1996's 'Pork', and he was of course also involved with the very first Taylor's Universe album ten years prior to 'Once Again'. The album starts with some didjeridoo before again working on expanding the listener's musical boundaries. This is quite different music to that from Taylor's Free Universe, not nearly so challenging, yet mixing jazz and prog in a way that is always guaranteed to ensure that one has to actually think and pay attention.

There are a few minimalist pieces here that are just superb, with sections of "Way Back in '85" reminding of me of some of Roger Eno's best works with simple repeated piano lines, but this piece in particular moves and melds with sax and fuzzed guitars to give it new life. Overall this is a very enjoyable album, and while not as essential as some of Robin's other albums is certainly worthy of further investigation.

 Experimental Health (with Karsten Vogel) by TAYLOR'S UNIVERSE album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.73 | 23 ratings

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Experimental Health (with Karsten Vogel)
Taylor's Universe RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars Robin's fifth album was released as Taylor's Universe with Karsten Vogel, who is probably one of the most well-known saxophonists in the world and is highly regarded for his work in the Seventies with Secret Oyster. TU was this time just Robin, joined by Rasmus Grosell on drums, with Jan now a guest, as was Kim Menzer (flute, trombone, saxophone), Henning Plannthin (guitar) and Jytte Lindberg again providing some vocals. This CD has all that anyone could wish for from avant-garde music with melody interspersed with experimentation, gentle ambience mixed with rock riffs, controlled chaos mixed with lounge core. Songs such as "Elephant Kiss" really show what this band is about with powerful playing throughout and interactive complexity that is quite Zappa-esque.

Sounds effects (as usual) are brought into play but in a manner that definitely add to as oppose to detract from the music as a whole. I would guess that quite a few jazz lovers would have started listening to Robin's work at this point due to the connection with Karsten but it is the guitar at the beginning of songs such as "Inner Space" that really drive home the clarity and vision. While Karsten is a key player and component to the overall sound, this is very much Robin's music. Worth discovering for discerning fans of music.

 Pork by TAYLOR'S UNIVERSE album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.07 | 20 ratings

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Pork
Taylor's Universe RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

3 stars Robin's fourth album again appeared under the Taylor's Universe banner, although it was now down to a duo of Robin and Jan. Mads and Hugh were there as guests, along with Jytte Lindberg (voice). Yet again Robin takes the music wherever he wishes ? feeling no need to conform to anyone's idea of what boundaries he should stay within. While maintaining the use of space and even silence that one expects from him, there is even more experimentation and use of dischord. But it always gives way to melody and there is always the feeling of direction and purpose that can be missing from some forms of jazz. This is rarely music that will be appreciated by those who follow the herd, but if you wish to listen to music of substance and depth that requires some effort on the part of the listener then of his early works it is this album that I feel needs to be discovered first.

Just because Robin has been releasing a lot of material it is never down to poor quality control, rather that he has many musical ideas inside him that luckily for us he wishes to share. Again this is more of a buffet served on a long table with many dishes for the listener to delight in as opposed to the snacks often served up as 'popular music'.

 Taylor's Universe by TAYLOR'S UNIVERSE album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.74 | 14 ratings

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Taylor's Universe
Taylor's Universe RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars Robin's third release, in 1994, saw him at the forefront of a jazz trio with some additional musicians. Jan was still there on keyboards while the drummer was now Mads Hansen. Additional musicians could be found in the welcome return (to my ears at least) of Jakob Mygind on saxophone, along with Hugh Steinmetz (trumpet), Henning Plannthin (guitar) and Henrik Andersen (guitar). Although I really enjoyed the previous album there are far more elements and clarity of vision with this release. The drums are far more involved, definitely driving the music along while the strong brass section gives some extra power in the top end ? and of course there are now three guitarists. Strangely that doesn't mean huge passages of complex interplay or frantic workouts, but just some differing styles and moods that are brought together to take the music to the next level.

Strong pianowork combines with the keyboards and some glissando style guitar to hearken back to the powerful days of bands like National Health while also looking forward. Sometimes the guitars are acoustic, while others there are some strong rock type riffing going on. It really is a case of if you don't really enjoy what the band are playing them hang on a minute as it is all about to change. If you love experimental music and/or jazz then this is an album that is truly essential on so many different levels

 Across The Universe by TAYLOR'S UNIVERSE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2015
3.99 | 11 ratings

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Across The Universe
Taylor's Universe RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Danish project TAYLOR'S UNIVERSE has been an ongoing feature for more than 20 years in various guises, and more than a dozen studio albusm have seen the light of day over the years. "Across the Universe" is the most recent outing by the band, released through Robin Taylor's own label Marvel of Beauty Records towards the tail end of 2015.

Taylor's Universe has been a quality provider of compelling but challenging instrumental progressive rock for more than two decades, and this collection of altered versions pulled from the more recent history of the project comes across as an appealing production on all levels, and arguably the album released by the project that will have the broadest general appeal at this point. It is subtitled "An Introduction to Taylor's Universe", a functional description that comes across as apt on all levels, but it is also an album well worth checking out by those that have already warmed to the charms of this fine Dane and his revolving sets of contributing musicians.

Thanks to windhawk for the artist addition.

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