Containing a near unique tactile quality...
Huw Jones
11:17 11th February 2010

To all but forget the existence of Sub Pop in the wake of Seattle’s glory days is to degrees an embarrassing admission to make, but through bands like The Album Leaf its one that makes for far more of an enjoyable rediscovery.

The brainchild of Jimmy LaValle ‘A Chorus Of Storytellers’ marks a departure of sorts from previous releases, in as much as that for the first time in five alums and eleven years, his touring band feature as an integral part of the recording process as opposed to LaValle relying solely on his self taught, bedroom crafted, multi-instrumental expertise.

The result is stunning.

Mixed by Jon Birgisson, LaValle has enjoyed support slots for Sigur Ros and members of the Icelandic four-piece have even toured as part of The Album Leaf so it’s perhaps hardly surprising that his latest release is an elegantly formed and brutally honest eleven tracks of emotionally weighted glacial pop.

Immediately cathartic ‘Perro’ acts as a discreet preamble to an album of documentary snapshots, steered and grounded through introductory beats, without which the glistening extremities of ‘Blank Pages’ and deft cinematics of ‘There Is A Wind’ would float free with the momentum of their own implausible ambitions.

Alongside constantly decisive instrumental grace lies unintentional vocal superiority in which LaValle and his guests (Jon Birgisson and The Black Heart Procession’s Pall Jenkins) can do no wrong; ‘Falling From The Sun’, ‘We Are’ and ‘Almost There’ as striking in subtly dehumanised form as ‘Stand Still’ and ‘Until The Last’ are in lyricless grandeur.

It’s a grandeur that respectfully hints at rather than borrows heavily from an emotive memory cache, the likes of ‘Within Dreams’ playing to its own uninterrupted narrative and providing a heightened ever-evolving sensory experience that doesn’t rely on the words “original motion picture soundtrack” to reinforce its effortless authenticity.

An incredible journey through a collection of short stories ‘A Chorus Of Storytellers’ is as playful as it is serious, as driven as it is aimless and containing a near unique tactile quality, demands immediate attention.