Robin Taylor and company bring about a new recording that will be sure to please fans of his last two releases and likely bring in some new fans. This time Taylor’s Universe has a cosmic sound mixed in with less of the mid period Crimson rhythms (but not void of them) and I love the new direction. Although not as hyper, some moments of this remind me Secret Oyster ‘Astarte’ which may very well be the result of Taylor having two members of that band in his line up this time, as follows : Robin Taylor - guitars, bass; keyboards; flute; percussion, Karsten Vogel – saxophone, bass clarinet, Klaus Thrane - drums, Claus Bohling - guitar solos, Thomas Thor Videro Ulstrup - synthesizer solos, and Louise Nipper - voice (on track 2). Vogel and Bohling the said Secret Oyster members.
The music is gorgeous throughout and things start out with “Buildings”, a nearly fifteen minute composition that begins slow and dreamy, with superb pacing and flow of many layers of keys, sax work to perfection, chilled synth solos, and laid back in the groove drums. This is the magic mushroom for all people that have been wishing for just one more epic Danish masterpiece of jazz rock in the progressive rock mode of yore. Then in comes new member and second Secret Oyster guitarist with immaculate solo. There are more solos to come and some of them sound like the late great French Christian Boule with that classic spacey soaring lead trademark. So many changes through the song, it just keeps taking you to another level. Taylor’s arrangement skills keep getting better and better, and that’s saying something. It may sound impossible but things have never sounded better with ‘Evidence’.
“Red Afternoon” (track two) is another extended track that begins with studio master and musicians Louise Nipper on voice on what resembles very early Phillip Glass (‘North Star’). I have to say this is the best she has sounded with great effect on his last three albums. Contemplative piano and steady drums set up a plateau for Bohling’s celestial lead guitar ornamentations. Developing keys grow and swell with ease. A bridge takes you back to Taylor’s previous couple of releases but only for brief moments. As many know from a multitude of Robin’s releases, he rarely lets anything sit still more than a half minute. Wonderful song to say the least.
“Marie Marolle” (track3) give us more of the building up of huge mountains. It carries on with the division of eerie outer universe and diametrically opposed succinct groundings. Much of this reminds me of Clearlight Symphony/Orchestra with more strong lead work in Christian Boule mode. Soon you have syncopation and another bridge, kicking into high energy with more cosmic jazz fusion. Same type theme with fourth and last cut (“Forever and a Day”). These songs give three main players the chance to really jam and give their best. You have fantastic sax, synth, and lead guitar performances throughout. The bulk of “Forever and a Day” is a fierce sword fight between synth solo and lead guitar. The music fades and ends without tricky bridges this time.
These tremendous four works sound fresh and have true impact for the classic progressive music lover. It’s brave and bold and I only hope Robin Taylor makes another recording whether it is with these same exact people or not. Fact is, ‘Evidence’ was a fresh surprise for me, as I truly love the cosmic nature of the music. You still have elements of ‘The Long Hello’ (ex VDGG members solo), Clearlight Symphony and shades of both Crimson and what an all instrumental VDGG might sound like, but so many other ingredients now with this more extraterrestrial beauty. Vogel has never sounded better, and this is absolutely another marvelous group Taylor has put together with perfect chemistry. You can almost vision him behind the curtain like the Wizard of Oz, overseeing and playing his many parts in the music, making all this new magic happen. So many places in this traveling music, you feel like you are marching into an unknown bliss. In one word, spellbinding! Recommended!
Reviewed by Lee Henderson on January 21st, 2014