06 February 2010

Until The Last

2010 was a highly anticipated year for a number of reasons. The Vancouver Winter Olympics are always a must and the World Cup will be played in South Africa this summer. But one treat came early in the year and has been a true delight. The Album Leaf released the much awaited A Chorus of Storytellers.

Jimmy LaValle - the mastermind that is The Album Leaf - has, yet again given us a record that is wonderfully composed, richly layered and simply beautiful. However, although very slight, A Chorus is not without it's imperfections.

The album starts out with two perfectly haunting songs, "Perro" and "Blank Pages" which are - no doubt - meant to be paired with one another. The repetitive simplicity of "Perro" still holds your interest as you're fading into the next track. And "Blank Pages" picks up right where the first track leaves off with the traditional Album Leaf programming and dark Rhodes sounds and leads us through a sonic forest of sounds leaving you unable to know what might come next.

However, a huge disconnect comes when the third track, "There is a Wind" starts out. It's reminiscent of the track "Always for You" from his last release, Into the Blue Again. And it's one of the few tracks that LaValle decided to put his vocal stamp on. While, LaValle knowingly doesn't have the best voice it does fit with the overall Album Leaf sound, but it tends to pull you out of a wonderful, instrumental ether into a place where paying attention to lyrics is unavoidable.

The next few songs follow suit. They offer quiet soundscapes and the occasional vocal addition which lead the listener (that's you) into track six, "Stand Still" and simultaneously into the second half of the record. Ironically, "Stand Still" is easily the most upbeat song on the entire record layering high-tempo, live drum beats over the omnipresent programmed beats urging the listener to do anything except stand still.

Although the rest of the album is beautiful and enjoyable, it completely ends for me at track seven, "Summer Fog." Possibly the most organic song* The Album Leaf has composed, "Fog" uses live piano (in lieu of the traditional synths and Rhodes) and a beautiful arrangement of strings. Maybe being in Reykjavik for part of the recording helped LaValle channel his inner Sigur Ros. And he did so wonderfully with this track.

The rest of the album is more than enough to carry it home and gives you the final track, "Tied Knots" which leaves you wanting the song to be several minutes longer. It's a peaceful and great conclusion to a good record. It's one that will definitely be revisited many times and will certainly not get lost in the shuffle of other ambient artists and bands out there. A Chorus of Storytellers is absolutely set apart from the crowd.


*The track "Wishful Thinking" from Into the Blue Again is a great track sans the synths and beats, but I personally feel that it lacks the overall emotion and beauty of "Summer Fog."


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home