February 3rd, 2009 5:33 pm | by MARK STOCK Music | Posted In: Columns, Live Cuts, Columns

The Album Leaf at Rotture, Friday, Jan. 30

IMG_7354Rotture seemed like it might be too snug a fit for San Diego's uber-atmospheric the Album Leaf. Jimmy Lavalle's vast, piano-strung medleys are so nomadic one might think he and his band only play outdoors, in endless meadows or on a raft out at sea. But Rotture's fit was actually the right one—tight but comfortable and extremely transparent. So thick and enveloping was the band's set that you had to scrub it off afterwards, but why would you even want to?

Lavalle refers to himself as the guy who plays "everything." Far from an obsession with power, it couldn't be more true. His office-like getup on stage looks like the cockpit of a spaceship. But the aid provided by his stellar band mates can't be overstated. Dummer Timothy C. Reese nearly hijacked the show with his flawless tempos, bearing as many dramatic twists and turns as Lavalle's pianoscapes. Adding elegance and tension to their sound—turning them away from Mogwai's short-fused hostility and into something calmer and more their own—was the electric violin of Matthew Resovich. Despite every track building to the verge of destruction, it's Resovich's tempered violin that keeps everything in check.

Lavalle's time spent with Icelandic sensations Sigur Ros is written all over his music. Drawing from classics like "Red Eye" and "Shine," as well as yet-to-be-released work, the Album Leaf was as much visual as they were audible; food for the imagination. Video projected on the wall behind the band was only appropriate, but would have played in the heads of listeners either way. It's simply the Album Leaf's uncanny way of climbing into your psyche and painting a vivid picture.

The Album LeafSpace

Photos by Mark Stock.
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