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Wandering Past Tristeza

The Album Leaf
An Orchestrated Rise To Fall
(The Music Fellowship)

As a member of Tristeza, Jimmy LaValle helps the 5 piece group play shimmering post rock. As a solo artist, his work wanders a lot more and shows a definite wider range of influences, including classical, jazz, and even a touch of drum and bass. The songs on the release are a lot more loose than those of the group he plays with and most of the songs are more stripped down, but the album still has a very interesting quality that may grab you with its simplicity.

The disc starts off with a track that may throw off all listeners that have an association between Tristeza and The Album Leaf in their head. After sort of a lazy drone of an intro, some buzzing keyboards make their way into the mix of "Wander" alongside a light sprinkling of organic drum and bass sounds. The second track strips things down to only two components as an instrumental track of an acoustic guitar being played over what sounds like a television broadcast. LaValle wanks around for 30 seconds on the very next track "Lounge Act" before more mellow layered keyboards on the next couple tracks.

Things go back to more organic sounds on "Airplane" with the sounds of an acoustic guitar and some stringed instrument backing. It's simple and pretty and more of an allusion to LaValle's classical music upbringing. The only time that the album sounds like Tristeza is for moments during the rather ironically titled "Short Story" (in that the 18-minute track is by far the longest song on the album). After several minutes of quiet space at the beginning of the track, a slowly strumming guitar weaves its way through the haze before some more keyboards and another echoing guitar join in and make the slowly progressing track feel like something off Spine And Sensory.

The final two tracks on the disc are continuations (or remixes) of previous tracks and they both end up better than the originals, simply because LaValle has added a couple new elements to them and given them more of a beat. Although the vocals on the final track sort of solidify the reasoning for things being instrumental the rest of the time. Overall, it's a good little side project release and makes for good Saturday morning listening.

Rating: 7