Music A.M.: My City Glittered Like a Breaking Wave

[1 September 2005]

By Jill LaBrack

Music A.M. sound like flying. Not in the bird sense, but in the trapped in a huge mechanical machine way. It’s exhilarating, yet disturbing and unnatural. You’re heading to a bustling city at 350 mph. You look outside on the descent and buildings become more clear. Then the plane jags a bit and your heart jumps. You even out in the end; the landing is perfect. You step outside and the sun is shining, but there’s still that trapped air feel of having spent many hours in a box in the sky. Music A.M. capture all those feelings on their latest EP. It’s electronic music for the world traveler. It’s the sound of a fashion show where you actually know someone who is devastatingly beautiful and they are participating. You sit in the front row and wonder how you got to this out-of-place place, and then you relax and realize this is all part of living too.

The coolly-titled My City Glittered Like a Breaking Wave is only five songs long. Except for the immediately excellent first song, “Mermaid”, this is at first an unchallenging listen. Not precisely dull, but definitely fading too far into the background. The trick that Music A.M. has up their sleeve, though, is their layered musicianship. On the third listen, there’s a new noise (or four) and background melody that wasn’t there at first and, by the tenth listen, they’re unstoppable. It’s all nicely textured and obviously meant to be more than just another throwaway batch of songs that didn’t make it onto a full-length.

One of the best qualities of Music A.M. are Luke Sutherland’s vocals. He sounds like someone waking from a long sleep with a detailed dream to tell you about. There’s a quiet urgency there and it is compelling. Whether spouting great lines such as “I got bodybuilders screaming / Supermodels creaming it / Oscar winners out of their minds” (“Mermaid”) or repeating the title on closer “Don’t Keep Me Waiting So Long” ad infinitum, Sutherland sounds like he’s standing directly in front of you, jumping up and down with excitement, wanting you to listen no matter what. Through it all, there’s a restraining sincerity which makes it all the better. Combine this with Volker Bertelmann’s (keyboards, computers) fascinating layering and the always-artistic Stefan Schneider (from To Rococo Rot; bass and synthesizer), and this is a short-but-sweet release that is worth tracking down.

Back to the flying. Music A.M. sound like a band created in the air. Out of the clouds, with the sound of the glistening sun and raindrops hitting passing planes, they portray something that is organic but not entirely understandable. Such is the nature of electronic pop music. The coldness is being shaped by the best bands into the particles that compose us all. My City Glittered captures those tiny pieces and presents them in a way that sounds like breathing. It’s up to you to let the atoms in.

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