Music A.M. Unwound from the Woods

In Music Am’s third release, the trio of Volker Bertelmann, Stefan Schneider and Luke Sutherland are close to mastering ambient pop fusion, unhurriedly weaving both clear and catchy with spacious and mellowing. On Unwound from the Woods tracks drift in on simple guitar melodies or on a few soft notes from a Rhodes, and everything rides an undercurrent of low key broken beats carrying Sutherland’s feathery vocals. Mostly repeated whispers on "love, loss and longing,” his hushed delivery is perfect for the melodic profanity of the opening track "Always,” and surprisingly emotive in "Stars On 45.” His voice is generally pretty soothing regardless of what he’s singing, and it makes for a loose and understated thread woven between Bertlemann’s electric piano and Schneider’s bass. Coated in an ambient sheen, the combination can be both spacious and positively lush while retaining an instrumental clarity and holding a bittersweet dreamlike quality. (Quartermass)