The fringes of hip-hop that line the frayed fabric of British club music have lately become tangled up in the nascent European postrock scene, a development that has resulted in an expanded instrumental pallette taking over where machines previously ruled. Luke Sutherland, the restless, thoughtful multi-instrumentalist and novelist who led Glasgow’s premiere psychedelic band Long Fin Killie, doesn’t claim hip-hop as his metier and master, but the music he produces under the banner of Bows moves back from trip-hop and drum ‘n’ bass toward the more primitive, patchwork style of early U.K. house musicians.
On his new album, “Cassidy,” Sutherland aims for a relaxed, airy sound augmented by whispered vocals, rock drumming and jazzy peripherals using mostly musicians from the underground studio scene in Europe. Though not as orchestral in its sweep as Iceland’s groundbreaking Sigur Ros, Bows has a similar North Atlantic idea of how songs should build continuously, one element at a time.
Switching between his own clenched singing style and the Bjork-like warblings of Signe Wille-Jorgensen (of Denmark’s Speaker Bite Me), the vocals are mostly there for atmosphere, but if you can infer meaning from lyrics that conflate Jackie Onassis with Muhammed Ali or that celebrate Las Vegas as a place of magic and wonder, then your enjoyment of the album will probably reach an even deeper level. The music itself conveys magic and wonder in abundance.