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The Album Leaf - In An Off White Room CD (album) cover


The Album Leaf


Post Rock/Math rock

3.10 | 2 ratings

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3 stars In An Off White Room, while simply a more irregular EP (and it will be easy to notice what makes it irregular, pushing it longer than even regular post-rock EP-ish sessions do), is also an intimate recording. Sure, the term "intimate" can already be used for a work that belongs to the early solo phase, containing a mix of soft multi-instrumentality and electronic nuances, yet, not to misinterpret, "intimate" is taken to an extra level, in this case. After signing with a record label, LaValle received enough funds to purchase new computer equipement (or to improve his own). Installing everything in his house and starting to compose and record, the result came in this shape. Its title must be simply related to the room in which the entire musical affair took place (and it's already time to mention that the production of In An Off White Room sounds as good as any other Album Leaf recorded in the studio, a mark, if you will, of LaValle's professional one-man sessions).

Meanwhile, following a strong and pleasant debut such as An Orchestrated Rise To Fall, this EP reaches its potential and shows its importance, despite some parts that could contradict such an opinion. Not long after this, Album Leaf will come forward with a second full album, definitely making this session placed in between, filled just with mild music, but, as far as LaValle's art sounds, hardly unserious. At least in comparison with the other EPs that will fill Album Leaf's otherwise dead long spaces - but which are also characterized by LaValle's collaborations with Sigur Rós or other bands - here the "intimate" factor works and, even after repeated listens, I can't be matched with similar in format, done later. In other words, it's slightly more valorous than a default EP.

LaValle is alone in his "white room", composing or experimenting nicely, with a bit of the album weighing consistently. With fewer blind spots than perhaps on the previous debut, LaValle is equal to himself and to his sound - but that's to be filed under normal things. The artist covers some motives naturally, mostly through the combination of guitar, keyboards, drums (rhythms), but the latter two are also part of the electronic (or computeristic) branch, this second full side of the work being heard throughout the whole dimension of the EP: artificially, minimalistically or melodically, LaValle's electronic ambition is again noticeable, adding to that minimalistic rock per se, mild fusion, ambient and pop. Experimenting is a way of seeing the build-up in only certain places, but overall, you can't deny that In An Off White Room isn't a solid solitary experiment.

The way Project Loop starts could be the basis of a light fusion melody, yet the rhythms and the open, flowing voice convert it all, robustly, into ambient, post-rock and a bit of beat music. The warmth of the piece is to be remembered, because the next step is, both literally and figuratively, minor, full of raining effects over which the tune is simply airy. The drums-keys-electronics combination resumes in Six AM, the idea of sensible music growing over noisy sort of constant waves; this specific track definitely captures the sort of post-rock ambient more famous bands (Explosions In The Sky) have produced. In true contrast with this "dynamic-hollow-electronic" set of samples, the 29 minutes Off White Room can surely be too much for listeners that can't survive a monotonously lingering ambiance. That's what happens, after a moody "guitar on echoes" first arrangement, for roughly 20 minutes: the minimal is maximized, and LaValle steps (or shifts) into the complete electronic field, basically (re)producing environmental sounds: better than listening to this, you could easily imagine being in a mountain chalet and opening the window widely as to let the chirping of the birds flow inside (ideally not scaring the birds away :) ). There's hardly any other sound development, except some sampling stuff, including the intrusive sound of a motorbike or couple of whispers. The last five minutes provide a special but mainstream entry, mostly repetitive electro-pop/trance that, within our "progressive" pinpoints, can relate to Kraftwerk at best. The vocals are weak, but the tune, with its beat, has a nice flavor.

An enjoyable EP, if only with a tricky epic, good to know about even if realistically non-essential.

Ricochet | 3/5 |


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