Taylor’s second album of 2007 saw him again with Karsten, Rasmus and Louise yet as may be guessed from the name of the band this time, there is also an additional musician. Michael Denner needs probably no introduction, having played with Mercyful Fate and King Diamond as well as Force Of Evil (my personal fave of the three). His guitarwork is renowned and when I saw that he was involved with this release I braced myself for a load of heavy metal histrionics with Robin et al taking a back seat. But Michael has sat here with an aim of taking on board what Taylor’s Universe has to offer and has provided another facet to the polished gem of the music. While there are times when Michael does take an obvious lead, it is far more restrained and in keeping with the feel of the band than one might imagine.
Initially I expected some Steve Vai-style shredding over a jazz background, but here we have a musician being very much a team player and not losing sight of the musical goal. “Step Aside” has a repeated motif which allow all musicians to show off some chops but at no point does it become too much of a ‘see what I can do better than you’ competition but instead stays true to the theme. One can almost imagine the musicians sat in a circle in the studio just bouncing ideas. I don’t know how much was recorded ‘live’ or layered, but there is a feeling of spontaneity and Michael feels part of the band instead of a guest musician brought in to play a role.
Musically I expected this to be the one album of the three that I would enjoy the most, given that I have been known to listen to HM/HR far more than jazz stylings, but I have to say that while Michael adds a great deal in some respects, I found that in others I missed some of the space that has now been filled by his presence. It is still a great album that is very much worth hearing, but of the three TU albums I have been able to hear it is to ‘Certain Undiscoveries’ to which I will be returning most.