The Album Leaf isn't so much post-rock as it is post-soft. Sigur Rós protégé and auteur Jimmy LaValle's five largely instrumental albums could be called road music, because what they evoke is too many undulating miles of asphalt. Unlike The Odyssey, LaValle's music isn't epic. Odysseus went somewhere, while The Album Leaf is a treadmill of tinkling synth, gentle guitar, and muted percussion with the occasional bristling breakbeat or glitchy electronic texture acting as a mile marker. The subtle differences between the middle-of-the-road meanderings on each album aren't enough to justify names instead of volume numbers. The pretty, genial, yet wholly indistinct soundscapes suggest a series of watercolors that blur together quicker than highway rest stops. They're enlivened by intermittent bursts of musical melodrama — swelling strings, ponderous piano — that feel as gratuitous and unearned as most Wall Street bonus checks. The title of LaValle's latest, A Chorus of Storytellers, is a deceit — unless purgatorial waiting room music can convey anything beyond mind-numbing tedium. Several tracks include vocals, but without any real song structure, they offer only another timbre of monotony. While it's understandable that LaValle would want to tour, given the continuing downturn in album sales, why anyone would prefer his concerts to an Ambien is unfathomable.
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