The World Is A Bell

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Putting aside their recent solo side projects, The Leaf Library’s follow up to 2015’s Daylight Versions, is an expansively eclectic mix of ever evolving loops and textures, revealing and expanding on their disparate influences.

Despite the press release for The World Is A Bell stating “the album turns its attention away from the coastal obsessions of ‘Daylight Versions’ to more surreal and atmospheric contemplations”, the band seems as concerned with the sea as ever, in both track names and lyrics.

Album opener “In Doors And Out Through Windows” is based around a minimal piano and vibraphone melody but evolves into jazz influenced percussion and horns, reminding me of Sterolab or more recently Vanishing Twin. First single “Hissing Waves” (there is that sea theme again) is arpeggio driven dream pop that lyrically references later track “An Endless”.

After the disorienting textures of “Larches Eat Moths”, the title track “The World Is A Bell” is a disarmingly minimal piece reminiscent of Michael Nyman and Steve Reich, starting with a symbolic clock chime before enveloping us in its string plucks and stabs. “Carried Off By Bees” mixes field recordings and found sounds, evolving them gradually into a crescendo of noise.

The centre piece of the album, at least to my mind, is “An Endless”. Built around a recurring bell motif, a repeated guitar pattern, and a synthpop melody, all overlaid with downbeat vocals verging on the supernatural. This track is the summation of all the things The Leaf Library does right, layering delicate textures into a wonderfully compelling and affecting soundscape. I’ve had this track on repeat on my phone for days.

Closing the album is the epic “Paper Boats On Black Ink Lake”. I feel that I should describe this track as post-rock, but that term is far too limiting for what’s going on here. The band uses a vast array of instrumentation to create an orchestral undertone, with lyrics that paint a surreal dreamlike landscape.

Despite the epic size of the album, clocking in at nearly 1 hour 20, there is no unneeded bloat here. Each track lasts long enough to fully immerse the listener in its complex exploratory soundscapes.

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