The best ambient musicians—super-genius Brian Eno to the avatars of Krautrock to Dr. Alex Patterson of the Orb—create gorgeous, seductive soundscapes that seem as if they have been playing forever, long before you tuned in, and will continue doing so, long after you hit “next.” The music is a Moment of Zen that’s always there, perhaps when you need it most. And so it is with Jimmy LaValle and the Album Leaf, from the one-man-project-turned-full band’s earliest efforts through the breakthrough In A Safe Place (2004) up to the recently released sixth album Between Waves.
The sound hasn’t changed much in that time—at least not in the bad sense of our melting glaciers—though it has evolved, first with LaValle’s addition of vocals, and now, after a six-year break, with less of his trademark Fender Rhodes and more Radiohead-style electronic glitch, as well as more trumpet and violin. That mix of the organic and the electronic/experimental, the heart and the head, the Apollonian and the Dionysian never has sounded better, fresher or more necessary. Because who among us doesn’t occasionally need to bliss out?
Listen for an interview and performance by the Album Leaf on an upcoming episode of Sound Opinions.
The Album Leaf, Between Waves (Relapse)
Rating on the 4-star scale: 3.5 stars.