Artificial Joy is my second exposure to Taylor's Universe, first being Soundwall. The direction taken seems to have continued on Artificial Joy, yet somewhat more refined symphonic sound Mastermind behind this band is Robin Taylor, who in the past few years has churned out quite a few releases including a vocal project called Art Cinema.
Musically I would describe Artificial Joy as instrumental symphonic with some fusion thrown in. Opening track, “Work” starts off this album with a mixture of King Crimson in the 72-74 era but not as out there. The title track has a more upbeat vibe to it while staying the course of Taylor’s Universe.
“Days Run Like Horses” revisits that Crimson sound with a heavy dose of saxophone. It’s also one of the more complex tracks on the album. “Atmosfear” has a carousel theme to it. It’s one of my least favorites of the album. It just doesn’t seem to fit the flow.
“Laughter” leans more towards the style on Art Cinema and it’s the only song that has “vocals” (spoken word type). Another of the least favorites of mine on this album is “Telephone”. It’s not bad but for some reason it like “Atmosfear” disrupts the flow of the album.
Now for the highlight of the album, to me at least, is the last track “Fame”. I rather wished there was more tracks like this. It has epic feel to it and is the longest track on the album, clocking in at almost 10 minutes. It also reminds me of the output on the second UK album, primarily the song “Carrying No Cross”.
Taylor’s Universe has given another wonderful album that will satisfy fans of the more melodic yet complex side of instrumental progressive rock splashed with some jazz-fusion and art rock moments. If you like the last few albums of Taylor’s Universe then Artificial Joy is a must owned part of the band’s catalog. It’s one of those releases in 2009 that didn’t get much press or recognition.
Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on February 7th, 2010