Tristeza guitarist Jimmy LaValle is the Album Leaf, and it's his orchestral vision that sets his music apart from many making similarly experimental pop. Tranquil to a fault, LaValle creates compositions with a pulse so faint that listeners might want to invest in a stethoscope. Into the Blue Again, LaValle's fourth release under the Album Leaf moniker, finds him creating soundscapes that are actually tamer than those on previous efforts. A song such as "Into the Sea" makes one wonder if the title should have been "Into a small, undisturbed pond at night in the dead of winter." LaValle works best when incorporating ambient noise and lively field recordings into his dense textures as he did on An Orchestrated Rise to Fall and One Day I'll Be on Time, his first two releases. Since then, each successive recording has become increasingly instrumental and, unfortunately, relegated to a sad descriptor: background music. Here's hoping that in a live setting LaValle decides to once again engage the listeners instead of making music for them to talk over.
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