CD Heart and Two Stars (CD 1224979),
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Heart and Two Stars

  • 1. Blackflash
    2. Big Wheel
    3. Route 66
    4. Wonderwoman
    5. Supercharger
    6. Cluster
    7. Air Miami
    8. Dynamite
    9. Skyscraper
    10. Ecstacy
    11. Mascara
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 154

  • Credits

    Music A.M.: Luke Sutherland, Volker Bertelmann, Stefan Schneider.
    Personnel: Luke Sutherland (vocals, guitar); Volker Bertelmann (Fender Rhodes piano, synthesizer, programming); Stefan Schneider (synthesizer).
    Recording information: Studio 2, Dusseldorf.
    Luke Sutherland's fascinating career, musical and otherwise, has resulted in a string of efforts that should have gained him even more attention that he's won so far. Music A.M.'s debut continues the streak, finding Sutherland returning to lead vocals for the first time in a number of years. Working with German musicians Volker Bertelmann and To Rococo Rot player Stefan Schneider, what in other hands could have been a fairly bloodless post-rock exercise becomes a slippery, passionate, and beautiful combination of styles. Sutherland's evocative singing has lost none of its sly, keening power -- here it's more of a breathy whisper than in comparison to Long Fin Killie, but it suits both the lyrics of romance and loss, and the minimal, precise arrangements to a 'T'. Those arrangements are mighty fine -- with Sutherland handling reflective guitar parts and Schneider's contemplative bass as key elements; it's Bertelmann's ear for crisp, meditative rhythms and keyboards that drives the music. It's not simple electro-clash revival or aimless noodle, but sweet propulsion as entrancing a reinterpretation of Eno-into-Aphex Twin/Warp Records efforts as Radiohead's song "Kid A" was. "Blackflash" is a striking opener, hinting at the swelling power of Sutherland's sometime collaborators in Mogwai, while "Supercharger" hits a brisk stride that's like a mysterious ballroom dance from the future, and "Dynamite" matches quick, skittering glitch with moody, late-night soul. Other standouts include "Wonderwoman," Sutherland's vocals only appearing after the glowing, early morning atmosphere of the song is well established, and the exultant guitar chime-meets-calm-crackle of "Air Miami." Overall, Heart and Two Stars suggests a different path for restrained rock emotion in the 21st century than would be provided by the likes of Coldplay -- instead of rote rehash, there's a brighter spark here that finds its own sweet grace. ~ Ned Raggett

  • Critic Reviews
    Q (3/04, p.109) - 3 stars out of 5 - "[Music AM] cherish the early-hours sensation of calm."
    Uncut (4/04, p.111) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[A] delicate avant-pop masterpiece....Brave, heady music."
    Mojo (Publisher) (2/04, p.95) - 3 stars out of 5 - "[T]his remains a shimmering, understated treat."
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