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The Album Leaf

When Jimmy LaValle isn't contributing to Tristeza, San Diego's artful torrent of noise, he is composing more introspective works as The Album Leaf. A veteran of such esteemed San Diego hardcore outfits as Swing Kids, The Locust, and Gogogo Airheart, LaValle shows his calm, quiet side with these mostly instrumental songs built from soothing, shimmering layers of synthesizer, guitar, strings, and percussion that fall over each other like waterfalls tumbling into murky, rippling pools. Sometimes the songs sound like they're moving backwards and forwards at the same time. This is music to fuel beautiful melancholy, the kind of songs you turn to when you want to wallow in your feelings. These pieces are less momentous in scale than Tristeza's, but equally dynamic; here, LaValle explores similar melodies and emotions, expanding small jazzy motifs into grander statements.

LaValle began pursuing this solo project in 1998 and in the fall of that year, he recorded the material for his first (and only) full-length -- more of a post-rock concerto, really -- the 10-track An Orchestrated Rise to Fall on Linkwork Records, which includes "Once We Were" and "Airplane." He released the record to rave reviews in 2000 and soon returned to the studio to pursue more of his private, instrumental tone poetry and came out again with the 2001 LP One Day I Will Be on Time, a lovely study in layered guitar ambience, burbling basslines, and evocative sampling. The album features the piano-driven meditation, "The MP." The lovely, exotic "The Audio Pool," meanwhile, is taken from Better Looking Records 2000 Holiday Matinee compilation.

Samples of conversation, overheard music, toy piano, and bath sounds are sprinkled throughout this strange wonderful music. It's a little layer of the mundane and familiar floating on a sea of swirling dreaminess, and it works. The Album Leaf may lull you off to sleep, but be warned -- you will have complex and inscrutable dreams.