Bows Blush

Pockets of the pop cognoscenti mourned when Luke Sutherland put Long Fin Killie and its heady hybrid of Celtic gestures and off-kilter pop on hiatus, but consoled themselves with the knowledge that Sutherland would be taking his new project Bows a few steps further down seldom-travelled paths. Still, Blush is a sly, stunning move that few could have anticipated. At the risk of overstatement, Sutherland does a bit of a Goldie or Portishead turn with Blush, articulating a new synthesis of pop music’s hedonistic desire for lushness with dance music’s unquenchable thirst for novel beats. Where much of drum & bass seems to have splintered off either into the shallow goldmine of providing backing tracks for commercials or into a pointy-headed realm of abstruse algorithms calculated to induce a fractal kind of madness (invoked by the soundtrack for the movie , for example), Sutherland’s approach with Bows is akin to We’s drum & bass. If it sounds complex, it’s because of its simplicity. "I wanted to create a lot of space," Sutherland explains, "leaving some space on the canvas, if you like, for your mind to fill in. So much of dance music is completely full — too full — of sound, but we took stuff out, so we ended up with muted, almost emasculated beats." So many of the sounds that are left on Blush, like the shivering strings on "Big Wings," are all the more vivid for sounding so antique, as if Sutherland found them perfectly preserved inside a chest of untapped sounds. Adding to that, Signe Hoirup Wille-Jorgonson, whose wan, dreamy vocals suggest she’s singing herself to a fuzzy wakefulness completes an album of elegant, modestly epic touches at once forward-looking and redolent of torch songs past. At same time Blush sounds incomplete, as if Sutherland is only beginning to find ways of getting the sounds inside his head onto disc. "I’m still looking for the ideal symbiosis between guitars and beats," he admits enthusiastically. "That’s another reason why the beats are kept deliberately simple — I’m interested in how beats fit in with the whole track. The beats don’t dictate the genre on this record." (Beggars Banquet)