Andrew Taylor - Mohribold album review

Instrumental fantasias from deepest Norfolk.

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Andrew Taylor has been crafting sounds in his native Norwich for well over a decade now, either as curator of the city’s Music House Acoustic Session, one half of folktronic duo 24thofjune or as a solo artist, recording ambient music and electronica under the alias of ajt. His natural habitat, however, seems to be progressive folk, specialising in the kind of deftly layered meditations that once made Mike Oldfield’s reputation (in fact, Taylor taught himself guitar by playing along to Tubular Bells).

Initially released in 2011, Mohribold is a frequently inspired work that borrows much from Oldfield, its shifting currents recalling the ebb and flow of Hergest Ridge or Ommadawn.

Aside from trumpet, cello and bassoon, Taylor handles everything himself, creating rich pieces full of glistening textures and busy detail, each musical detour bringing with it a bright sense of melody.

None of the four tracks here dip under the 14-minute mark, yet there’s very little flab. Rather, Taylor finds a place for everything – from woodwind, guitars and vintage organs to bouzoukis, tribal drums and weird South American ukuleles – without ever overcrowding the mix. The title track is the most restful offering on the album, with Taylor’s fingerpicked motif cushioned by soft synths, before the arrival of wordless murmurs and piping flute.

Podhu & Aruwa is a consummate exercise in guitar harmonics, emboldened by Hugh Stanners’ elegiac trumpet solo. The song finds a contrast in the more psychedelic musings of Dorobo, whose pulse is quickened by African percussion and subtle electronica, helped along by pastoral organ and a patch of guitar sustain.

However, Taylor’s talents are perhaps best served by the very fine Onsongo, an endlessly malleable creation full of organic motifs that vanish and reappear like characters flitting in and out of a narrative conceived by Vaughan Williams and the Penguin Café Orchestra.