Artist: The Album Leaf
Album: A Chorus of Storytellers
Short Review: If listening to Sigur Ros is like having sex with a mermaid in a coral palace, listening to A Chorus of Storytellers is like holding hands while walking down the street: pleasant, but unremarkable.
Long Review: Jimmy LaValle has been making low impact ambient electronica for over 12 years, and, motherfucker has gotten his act pretty much down. A Chorus of Storytellers is the latest album under his Album Leaf moniker, and it continues on his established legacy of making easy electronic music for people to sleep / write / grope to.
Its hard to write about an album as honey smooth, sticky sweet as Chorus. Featuring no real peaks or valleys, there isn't much to speak on other than its polite, courteous, inoffensive nature. Keyboards softly swell over programmed drum beats. Ocassionaly, there are some lyrics. By and large, however, there is a lot of soft melodies and simple progressions.
The songs work on the same build and release principal that dominates post-rock, but it features none of the eerie charm of Godspeed! You Black Emperor, none of the emotional catharsis of Explosions in the Sky or any of the woodsy jazz of Do Make Say Think. This is the definition of background music.
A Chorus of Storytellers isn't a bad album, but there isn't much to grab hold of a listener, either.
If one assumes that LeValle has no higher aspiration than to make something sweet and substance-free, like the audio equivalent of a puff-pastry, then this record is a success. And if all you are looking for is something nice to put on after a long day or something to go down some one's pants to, then you could do a lot worse than The Album Leaf. However, this ain't no Postal Service-esque crossover hit in the making. It is a simple, straightforward, inessential listen.
Maybe I'm missing something. Perhaps a trip through The Album Leaf's back catalog would provide some context to Chorus, give it some meaning within the band's body of work. But who's got time for that shit? Besides, any good album can be appreciated on its own merits. This album can be enjoyed, but only as soft static and not in any active. Bedroom music, and nothing more.
(Note: Latterman has nothing to do with The Album Leaf, but it's way more interesting. You want Album Leaf tracks, find them yourself.)
Buy, Steal, Skip: Skip it.