Tom Verlaine

Warm and Cool

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Anyone who has heard his groundbreaking work with Television or his first two solo albums knows what a gifted and compelling guitarist and incisive songwriter Tom Verlaine can be when he's on point. However, much of Verlaine's solo music from 1984 onward has sounded as if the man was just marking time until a good idea occurred to him, and Warm and Cool remains an especially keen example of his downward slide. Warm and Cool is a collection of instrumental guitar pieces, and while Verlaine's gifts as a player are still well in order, anyone expecting the sheets of glorious sound he conjured up on Marquee Moon or Dreamtime is sadly out of luck for the most part. The majority of the cuts on Warm and Cool are spare to the point that they recede into the wallpaper, and more than a few sound as if Verlaine simply noodled them into existence while the tape was rolling (which Verlaine suggests may well be the case in the "interview" included with the album's 2005 reissue). While "Saucer Crash" and "Boulevard" conjure up a lean and evocative late-night mood and "Lore" is a brief descent into noise, "Sleepwalkin'" sadly lives up to its name, and "Sor Juanna" and "Spiritual" sound less like songs and more like filler. Verlaine is far too talented a guitarist to make an entirely uninteresting album, and much of Warm and Cool is lovely in a low-key, ambient manner. But he's also capable of a lot more than that, and though this is good 3 a.m. listening, it never really tries to be anything more, and that's its ultimate failing.

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