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 Kooler - PK 08/103
  Release Date: 10 June 1995
  Limitation: 1000

   Urban Isolationism      47.54
   Metro                   10.10

  all tracks written by Pete Namlook & Robert Sattler

Collaboration of Namlook and Saxophoney Robert Sattler. Slightly jazzy 2 Trax with some extremely relaxing Structures on them. Very minimal and Empty Streets like. If you want your place to be quieter than an Isolation cell this is it.

(review by sasha)

'Kooler' is supposed to be the first in a series of collaborations between Peter Namlook and jazz musicians. This is an interesting move, to say the least, and not without it's potential for controversy. I've already seen comments claiming that "it's not jazz."

Of course not. This music asks the question is there a middle ground between the electronic/ambient camp and jazz? To be successful it needs to be neither jazz nor ambient, but the confluence of techniques from both.

'Urban Isolationism' has PN on his usual arsenal of electronics, and what sounds to be electric bass & acoustic guitar. Robert Sattler plays saxophone, and someone called 'Cacciatore' plays trumpet. The fourth, phantom character here is a system of what sounds like very expensive delay and reverb processors. All sounds seem to to float around in a large space which echoes without turning to mud.

Droning tones provide a basis for much of the piece. Into the drones comes a simple bass line over which the Sattler and Cacciatore improvise. This is most successful is passages where the saxaphone plays sustained notes to rub against the drones. Occasional dissonances set up interference patters with the drone as they bounce around in the echo.

The essence of traditional jazz is the changes -- the succession of complex chords that define scales for the soloist to build his solos. There is none of that here. The soloists have to operate in a provisional harmonic structure anchored only by the drones. To be successful the soloist must ride the cusp between repetition and change.

Does the result work for me? Yes. The closest referent for this work would be Miles Davis' explorations from the early 70s. The muted trumpet used here cannot help but recall Miles Davis. Do I think 'Cacciatore' is as good a player as Miles? No, but he(she?) and Sattler do what is essential in this music, which is to listen as they play, and find their place in the whole.

'Metro' focuses more on Sattler's saxophone. As he plays a rambling improvisation into the virtual echo chamber Namlook has constructed for him, the listener's ear is drawn to texture of the sound (beautifully recorded by the way). His melody lines are echoed (distorted? sampled?) by the electronics.

Electronic musicians have so many different timbres, techniques and tricks at their disposal that I think it's difficult sometimes for them to understand how someone could play 'just' the saxophone for their whole lives or 'just' the 'cello, or 'just' the guitar. This disk provides one answer to that question -- that being limited to one limited range of timbres just points you in other directions for exploration.

Electronic music purists may recoil in horror from this disc; so too may jazz purists. But listeners with an open mind will find much here to enjoy.

(review by Kent Williams)

i can see why this is so disliked by some. it is one of the envelope pushing fax releases (like uvoii or fanger and siebert) which takes the label out of the normal release range. as a non-jazz fan but interested listener, i can't hear all the influences but consider it as a disc which i will listen to for itself: usually it is, i will listen to some fax - lets see what (for that general ambient techno ride) whereas this will answer the i fell sort of laid back jazzy call.

(review by jeremy)

I like the FAX release 'Kooler' (Namlook & Robert Sattler). If I remember correctly, this disk caught some flak on this list a few months ago for sounding like 'lite jazz.' I don't know about Metro (I can't listen to more than 2 minutes of it before I say "Next!"), but UI is wonderful. The trumpet work is reminiscent of Paul Horn's 'Taj Mahal' album. One really nice section of the song is when a synth/horn drone interleave is joined by an amateurish but sincere detuned guitar melody.

While I was listening to this the other day, my damn neighbor (I mean my neighbor) decided to cut her lawn with an electric mower. At first I was mad, but then realized I couldn't do anything about it ("You can't mow your lawn now, I have a new FAX disc!") so I accepted the sound of the mower. Turns out it was just a few Hertz off of the drone that pervades UI, and it added a wonderful throbbing phasing effect that made the song even spacier. John Cage do you hear me!

(review by Chris Howe)


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