Record Review - 4 July 25 2001

Attention fans of lazily repeating pleasantly repetitive minimalist down- tempo: Pick your most relaxing activity. A low-lighted bath; hot tea in November; a mountain lake surrounded by forest. Maybe popping Quaaludes. Now put on headphones, push play and do it in your head.

The Album Leaf is the solo project of Jimmy LaValle of Tristeza, and following in Tristeza's ever-so-quiet padded footsteps, the second Album Leaf release, One Day I'll Be on Time, is the back-ground to an idyllic mindscape. But The Album Leaf is even more barebones than similarly instrumental Tristeza. The gentle guitar and keyboard ambience, occasionally joined by lightly brushed drums, betrays all sense of momentum. Imagine sitting on that lake, ripples arcing outward almost guiltily as the only indication of your presence.

LaValle presents 12 captured memories that rustle like the pages of a scrapbook but otherwise don't move. Indeed, One Day is so calm that actually listening to it — as opposed to having it on in the background — makes you hyper-aware at times of your own actions. Some people prefer bands that pump them up. For the opposite, there's New Age and The Album Leaf.

The Album Leaf (Tristeza as well) record for Tiger Style Records, quickly gaining a reputation as a home for atmospheric artists. Another recent Tiger Style release is The Braille Night, the follow-up to Ida's Will You Find Me. Well, it actually was recorded simultaneously and contains 10 more intimate songs that wrap you in a cloak of harmony. While there is no track to rival Will You Find Me's "Maybelle," the stripped down instrumentation of The Braille Night complements its predecessor like the muted glow of a camp fire does a night in early spring.

The Album Leaf play MJQ Concourse Thurs., July 26.

-- Tony Ware