Michaela Melián Los Angeles

Having strong roots as the singer and bassist in German band F.S.K. (which began in 1980 and are still going steady), Melián’s solo career is surprisingly new. This organic and lovely release follows her more DJ-friendly debut Baden-Baden, which appeared on Monika two years ago. The focus here is on warmth and acoustics, with violoncello, Spanish guitar and ukulele balancing the stoic with the playful. Given the album’s title, it’s difficult not to picture a smog-obscured landscape made golden and dreamlike in the early morning light. The instruments are likewise bathed in refracting layers of ambient noise, stacked upon each other until the loops punch through to the surface. Pieces like "Stein” or "Stift” conjure Steve Reich in a dream of quicksand. This mould is broken on later tracks like "Convention” and "Sebastian,” which resolve into sharper detail, revealing angles and edges where before there was only heat haze. A closing cover of Bryan Ferry’s "Manifesto” further dims the lights and sparks up the neon of the Sunset Strip. Sometimes it is about the nightlife, after all. (Monika)