Taken directly from the mixing desk of the Maschinenfest 2001 festival, this PAL live release is not the expected fare. The release begins with the distinct feel of a live show, as the samples of dated cigarette advertising are reorganized into comic prattle over the moody and ominous synth of "In the Now" (which is not too different live than the studio version found on Release). With the tension built, PAL fans might expect some of the beats, loops, or tracks that are familiar from previous studio releases such as M@rix, Release, or Signum. It becomes clear very early on that PAL does not feel that heavy beats or familiar material are well placed at two in the morning and they proceed to deliver 40 minutes of atmospheres. A new PAL sound is disclosed, moving through minimalist compositions ("Heiden Heiland"), haunting soundscapes of noise palettes that are offset by snippets of orchestra ("Creed"), and samples of human voices being layered over simple melodies that build a true sense of disquiet ("Severity"). Although this can be described as a comparatively sedate performance, PAL's noise and IDM influences are still well represented on this release. Beats will still break and metallic howls still find their way in. The texture of the performance varies, and changes in the direction of the mood stop Live at 2 AM from being described as mere background ambience. This release is not any less involving than beat-driven favorites "Metrum v1.2" or "Bang Your Box," although the methods differ. Live at 2 AM has great sound quality for a live performance and captures the building of mood that the artist planned for a live audience. Only time will tell if PAL intends to sustain this direction change in their next studio release, but Live at 2 AM is good evidence that this is no cause for concern.
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AllMusic Review by Theo Kavadias