Mountaineer When the Air is Bright They Shine

If you’re scripting a film that opens with strong serif credits over high P.O.V. shots of a wispy blonde on a Vespa winding along a polluted-but-pretty Middle European river, then Hamburg songwriter Henning Wandhoff is the man to write the music. As Mountaineer, his third album is a sunshine smile that doesn’t quite touch the sadness around the eyes. Over samba shuffles and light wah-pedaled guitar, Wandhoff’s warm speak-singing smoothes the wrinkles in the boy/girl trysts gone not quite right. The tear-in-my-Pernod songs are rendered with the same light on dark style as Cohen’s "Chelsea Hotel” or VU’s "Femme Fatale.” The sound hooks up the ’60s and ’70s "poptastic” jazziness with hints of modern micro-processing... like watching La Dolce Vita on your video iPod. It’s an easy album to get into if you like doing crosswords in cafés while smoking American cigarettes, watching the clouds cover the sun then move on. It’s a hard album to dislike otherwise. (Productions Virage)