May 11, 2006
In the early ’90s, Tom Verlaine surprised fans of his edgy guitar work with new-wavers Television by releasing a collection of brooding instrumentals. Titled Warm and Cool, the album revealed the spacey, cinematic side of his muse, and introduced the New Yorker to a new audience. Now, some 14 years later, Verlaine has returned to this format with around, a collection of 16 instrumentals featuring his twangy and super-clean electric guitar. These include solo meditations, grooves accompanied by sparse bass and drums, and ambient soundscapes constructed from layers of electronically processed guitar. Verlaine’s sonic palette extends from soukos to film-noir jazz to sci-fi effects—disparate elements he sometimes weaves into a single song. His music has an underlying psychedelic current that recalls the late-’60s modal jazz of tenor saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders, as well as the slowly uncoiling energy of Indian ragas. Quirky, subtle, and refreshingly original. (Thrill Jockey).