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Leaf Spring

Kent Sparling
Leaf Spring
(Purling/Jicama Salad)

It seems that the life of Kent Sparling revolves around taking sound apart and putting it back together. Not only has he spent time building Serge Modular synthesizers, but he's produced albums for various artists and now works as a re-recording mixer and sound designer for George Lucas' Skywalker Sound. In addition to creating his own music, you'll see his name in the credits of films like Lost In Translation and Adaptation.

I'm not sure if it has anything at all to do with his day job, but the music he creates (along with Jeffrey Foster) on Leaf Spring is like a peaceful release from whatever bombardment he may hear during the day while trying to find just the right sound for a segment of film. Influenced by super-minimal artists like Eno and the like, this release is 10 tracks and just over an hour of warm textures and drones, created with a bank of synths, lots of electronics, and the ocassional organic instrument like bells, guitars, and voice.

The disc opens with "Loss Rose," and it's just over five minutes of the above. Quiet drones linger on and on while submerged low-end hits drop once in awhile and the gurgle of synths pops up every so often. "Pearl Rolling In An Open Palm" takes on a little more structure, looping what sounds like a filtered guitar over a haunting modulating drone and super-subtle clicks and background noises. The release even gets a bit haunting in places, as on the creaking noises of "Horse Latitudes" or the squiggling sputters of electronics in "Error Start."

The album never really reaches any points where a rhythm comes into play and rarely are the moments with an actual melody. Leaf Spring is mainly a drift through deep, deep washes of finely-tuned sound that reward nicely both as background music or engulfing at a loud volume. It's definitely stuff that plays better around sleepy-time, and although there are some darker moments, the release crawls into the light both at the beginning and the end (the closing track of "Night Lotus" easily sounds like it could have come from Eno's Apollo, one of my favorite ambient albums ever). There are places where the infatuation with the cool modulars could have been whittled into slightly more concise passages, but for the most part it's an enjoyable journey (and who am I kidding, if I had a Serge around, you couldn't pull me away from the damn thing).

Rating: 7