19 January 2011

CD REVIEW: Robin Taylor - Two-Pack Part 1 (2010 Marvel of Beauty Records)

I’ve covered Danish multi-instrumentalist Robin Taylor quite a few times here on BPB…mostly because he’s so bloody prolific!  Every time I turn around he has a new album or project under way…it can get pretty exhausting keeping up with him.

Robin’s newest release is a 2-disc set titled Two-Pack, interestingly enough.  More interesting is the fact that each disc features very different line ups and styles, is packaged individually in little sleeves, and is smaller than your average CD…they’re both mini-CDs, EPs really, with about 22 minutes of music on each.

Today we’ll be listening to and looking at the first disc in the set.

Disc 1 features Robin Taylor teamed up with Jacob Mygind or Carsten Sindvald on sax.  Taylor handles all the guitars and basses, while monster drummer Klaus Thrane keeps the beat.  Louise Nipper adds voice on one track, continuing a collaboration that stretches back years.

Things open up with the appropriately titled ‘Heavy Friends.’  A wall of individual almost skronking instruments sets things off on a very wild and improvisational footing, sounding as much like the conclusion of a piece as an opener.  The song grooves heavily, with sax bleating over a pounding, insistent rhythm.  Taylor’s bass and guitar mesh very well together, and it’s a bit difficult to take the very structured style in the context of a TFU release, since I associate that moniker with Taylor’s more improvisational side.  This is a heck of an opening track, however, heavy as the title implies and with a lot of meat on its bones.  It feels far grander than its relatively short length would imply.

‘The Ghost of Goran’ carries things on, and at nearly 10 minutes is one of Taylor’s longest tracks on any of his releases (that I currently own, anyway).  It’s much more laid back, with Sindvald’s sax the major vocal point.  His soprano sax playing is lyrical and beautiful, while his tenor playing offers up similar fluidness.  The opening 4+ minutes are subtle and ballad-like, but the song quickly builds in intensity after Sindvald switches to tenor.  Suddenly we’re listening to a piece every bit as intense and heavy as opener ‘Heavy Friends,’ and while I’d like to come up with comparisons for you, there just aren’t any.  The music is individual, sounding really like no other band, and it’s all the stronger for it.

This first disc closes up with another shorter piece, the 7-minute ‘Stoned Mushroom.’  Slightly jazzier, Taylor’s keyboards lay down some nice foundations for his guitar and bass playing, with Mygind’s tenor sax sounding boozy and sleazy over top.  This is the kind of song I could hear being played in a rock and jazz club, smoke leaving a haze as the band hits the groove and takes it as far as they can go.  While definitely a rock song, there’s enough jazz in here to add flavour and spice to the mix.  A breakdown at 4:30 leads to a sort of coda of the main theme…the false stop is a nice touch, lending a faux bonus track feel to the coda.

While you can’t buy this CD on its own, it serves as a nice taste of this particular line up, and meshes well with the second half of Two-Pack, which we’ll be taking a look at very soon!

Track Listing:
Heavy Friends 5:13
The Ghost of Goran 9:56
Stoned Mushroom 7:19

Robin Taylor – electric guitar, keyboards, basses, percussion
Jacob Mygind – tenor sax (1, 3)
Carsten Sindvald – soprano and tenor sax (2)
Klaus Thrane – drums
Louise Nipper – voice (2)


Anonymous said...

"Mini-CDs" now that is different; the only mini-CD I've ever seen was a child's one.
Are they lower in price I wonder?

Anonymous said...

No, in fact they are more expensive to maufacture!