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The Art of Love

 Move D/Namlook VIII - The Art of Love - PK 08/170
  Release Date: 30 May 2005
  Limitation: 1000

   The Art of Love                   11.25
   One After 303                     10.56
   VS(OP)                             3.31
   Dial Again                        11.45
   Kool Train Intro                   5.30
   Kool Train Riding the Desert      24.11

  all tracks written by Pete Namlook and David Moufang
The cover of this latest Namlook & Move D collaboration is perhaps the plainest among all Fax releases; it's just a sort of non-descript grayish pink, with the trademark Fax circle reduced to a little white job in the upper right corner. Maybe it's symbolic--love begins with a blank canvas, and then you fill in the emotions and colors of sharing, or something. At any rate, this is a pretty engrossing Fax release, one that clearly sets out to paint a mood for you.

The title track commences with a little 2-note synth figure that reminded me of a bird call, and it repeats throughout the track. Minimal percussion and a typical 2-beat Namlook ambient pulse, rich in resonance, also kick in and last pretty much for the duration of the piece. Where things get dicey is with the trumpet that becomes the most pervasive element of the track. It's clearly supposed to set a sort of film-noir romantic mood, and at times it does. But the point at which it starts to get on your nerves will vary from listener to listener. I pretty much rode with it on this first track because the overall mood is so captivating, and there are curious little effects that pop up from time to time. About halfway through, a voice enters the mix saying "The art of love is much more than the act itself," and it starts getting slower and slower, to make sure you clearly get the point. A nicely atmospheric track, and different from anything Pete's done for a while.

"One After 303" serves up a more mechanical-sounding synth and a fairly elemental percussion track. After about 4 minutes or so, some washes of gentle ambience commence and the beat starts to get more pronounced. There's something a little incongruous going on here--maybe the two lovers are starting to learn about each other and having their preconceptions changed a bit. Or something. Some quirky little metallic squeaks begin to dot the mix later on, adding interest, but the beat remains very steady. Pretty nice.

"VS(OP)" is just a few minutes long and is mostly some old-school ambient synth, nothing fancy. A light rhythm kicks in after a minute and a half, but just when it sounds like it might diverge in an interesting way, the track ends. Then we're into "Dial Again," what I consider the disc's most alluring track. The bird call-like sound from Track 1 returns, but this time over a rather hypnotic background shimmer that's like hearing an ambient river in the woods, having the sound accompany you as walk deeper and deeper through a rich natural landscape. Some odd little "conversational" tones emerge from the mix, over a wonderful subtle rhythm. This track starts to weave quite a magical spell, and in terms of "the art of love," it's probably where the presumed romantics are having their most memorable time together, walking along in some beautiful place. You could drift off to sleep very easily to this bit of classical ambience. There's some unclear dialogue near the end.

"Kool Train Intro" consists of a steady drone underneath some relatively sombre synth pads...perhaps the relationship has hit an uncertain patch now? Then comes the longest track at just over 24 minutes--"Kool Train Riding the Desert." The trumpet really dominates this track, and honestly, it gets a bit grating. The intent is to create a mood that's sultry, perhaps a bit edgy, but you may be on edge yourself with some of the slightly distorted bursts of sound from that instrument. There's a sustained drone that's easier to take, along with some Biosphere-like pops and crackles here and there. A few snatches taken out of any part of this track could serve as perfectly adequate film music for some moody romantic mystery. About 13 minutes in, a beat gradually enters the mix and you start to REALLY wish the trumpet would am-scray. When it does, somewhere between 15 and 16 minutes in, you get the second coolest section on the CD, some deliciously thich, evocative ambient work. There's some odd vocals that come in and add another unique element, but they don't last long.

Overall verdict: a pleasantly captivating Fax release that may be perfect for a restless, lovelorn mood--if you can handle the two tracks with lots of trumpet on them. I'd probably give it a 7/10, maybe even 8 if I'm in the right mood. As an individual track, "Dial Again" is also a minor gem.

(review by Kevin Renick)


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