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O'2L, O'2L (Peak)
Jane Mangini is a jazz-trained keyboard player who makes a living composing music for adverts. Al Pitrelli is a guitarist much in demand as a session player for heavy rock and nu-metal groups. Not too promising so far, eh? Surprisingly, O'2L (O'Toole) are a pretty impressive double-act and, if they don't find themselves falling between too many stools, should gain recognition as the brains behind one of this year's more oxymoronic offerings, an experimental AOR album. It's not an unqualified success, as it contains horrors like the pompous "Celtic-Rock" of "NYC/Dublin/NYC". Skip that and concentrate instead on Mangini's piano work throughout (tunes like the melancholy "Something Missing" are truly beautiful) or some of the more "nu-jazz" episodes such as "Shopping for Camels". The music has a self-conscious rootlessness about it, cosmopolitan and globe-hopping -- but in a Business Class rather than a "World" fashion. The mood is a little too energetic to be simply aural wallpaper. Also, much of the playing is too intense and angular to sit easily with the carpet-slipper tinklings one might expect from this label. Even so, its most satisfactory sections do demonstrate a certain ambient new-ageism. Combining jazz, folk, rock, percussive, and neo-classical elements, this project, at its best, provides a series of pleasantly articulate soundscapes and deserves an unprejudiced hearing.