Friday, April 11, 2008

Tom Verlaine - Warm and Cool

Tom Verlaine entered the music scene as a member of the Neon Boys, and later helped write a couple classics as part of the band Television. Warm And Cool is a much different record than what one might expect from Verlaine, though, as it's not only instrumental, but also stylistically much different than the work he did with either of his other bands. Originally released back in 1992, it's one of those albums that seems oddly timeless, with a style that dips into rock and jazz without taking on the baggage of any particular era. Verlaine is joined on the album by Television bandmates Fred Smith and Billy Ficca, as well as Jay Dee Daugherty (who played with The Church, the Patti Smith Band, and others), and interestingly enough, the album is largely improvised. In most cases, Verlaine would play a basic melody on his guitar beforehand, the players would talk about a beat or tempo, then they'd roll with it. The result is an album that's loose and inspired without being sloppy in the slightest. It's also more varied than one might guess.
The tone of the guitar is more of a deep, Dick Dale or Duane Eddy sound, and it all has a noirish, film-score sound. You'll recognize several cuts as filler on public radio.It starts with a slow-burner in "Those Harbor Lights" as Verlaine lays down some smokey coils of guitar over brushed drums while "Sleepwalkin'" shuffles with a healthy swagger while "The Deep Dark Clouds" gets downright atmospheric with sparse, reverbed guitar notes and distant rumbling percussion. A good portion of the opening section of the album actually feels like soundtrack work (a film adaptation of an Elmore Leonard book immediately comes to mind) as the musicians toy with dark alleys and smoky club themes.
Then the release goes and throws you for a loop, with tracks like the downright bubbly "Boulevard" (which features some deliciously playful guitar from Verlaine) and the hooky warmth of "Little Dance." There are three different versions of the track "Depot" and each one feels like it's gradually cracking the basic elements apart even further. Heck, they even rock out, sort of, on the more freestyle "Lore," which runs almost seven minutes and features some crashing cascades of cymbals and luscious guitar shredding. Warm And Cool is just about what the title states in terms of musical content, and it's a great document of excellent music in mostly cool (in the Miles Davis term) shades. Great for late night, very early morning.

1. Those Harbor Lights [Instrumental] 2. Sleepwalkin' [Instrumental] 3. Deep Dark Clouds [Instrumental] 4. Saucer Crash [Instrumental] 5. Depot (1951) [Instrumental]
6. Boulevard [Instrumental] 7. Harley Quinn [Instrumental] 8. Sor Juanna [Instrumental]
9. Depot (1957) [Instrumental] 10. Spiritual [Instrumental] 11. Little Dance [Instrumental]
12. Ore [Instrumental] 13. Depot (1958) [Instrumental] 14. Lore [Instrumental]



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