One of the great things about Pink Floyd back in the late 1960s and '70s was the fact that as abstract, philosophical, or complex as their lyrics could be, they still made a point of delivering the hooks. From "Money" to "Another Brick in the Wall" to "See Emily Play" to "Have a Cigar," Pink Floyd had a wealth of great hooks. And that lesson has not been lost on one of the many bands they influenced: RPWL, who celebrated their tenth anniversary in 2010 with the release of The Gentle Art of Music. Looking back on RPWL's first ten years as a band, this two-CD retrospective demonstrates that the German prog rock/psychedelic rock/alternative pop/rock outfit has long recognized the value of strong hooks. RPWL have had their self-indulgent excesses as lyricists, but they have come up with so many appealing melodies and hooks that one can easily live with those lyrical excesses -- and there are plenty of hooks to be found on both discs of The Gentle Art of Music. The first disc, titled Compilation, is a best-of; it contains previously released material going back to "Crazy Lane" and "Hole in the Sky" from 2000's God Has Failed. But the second disc, titled Revisited, is mainly a collection of remakes/re-recordings of familiar RPWL songs -- and those remakes, although intriguing, will tend to appeal to hardcore fans more than casual listeners. The inclusion of Revisited makes The Gentle Art of Music less than ideal from a best-of standpoint; Revisited isn't a disc that novices will absolutely have to hear if they are getting into RPWL for the first time. But Compilation works really well as a best-of, and it should be made available by itself as a single-CD release. However, the seasoned RPWL fan will enjoy having Compilation and Revisited together as part of the same package. For those who are really into RPWL, The Gentle Art of Music is a pleasant trip down Memory Lane -- lyrical excesses and all.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2