The Leaf Library - The World Is A Bell (2xLP - Pink Vinyl)
An ambitious and expansive update of their warm, hypnotic drone-pop encompassing gently pulsing electronics, chiming guitars, minimalist piano, acoustic and synthesised drones, noise, improv all in the service of the band's most assured and experimental songwriting yet. Features guest contributions from (amongst others) celebrated singer Ed Dowie, noise group Far Rainbow, fellow space-pop travellers Firestations and the string quartet Iskra Strings. It draws on all aspects of the band's work so far, from indie guitar pop to ambient atmospherics, via surging rhythms and layered, melancholic vocals. This is the band's second album and is the official follow up to 2015's debut Daylight Versions (5* The Guardian).
It begins with 'In Doors And Out Through Windows', a minimal piano and vibraphone incantation in 7/4 with unsettling repetition and melancholy brass swells. 'Hissing Waves' is the most pop the band have ever sounded, with its skipping Insides-esque electronics and looping verses. 'Patience' (vocals by Ed Dowie) is the closest the band come to the sound of 'Daylight Versions', cresting on waves of guitars and an insistent synth arpeggio. Elsewhere we find the title track's pointillist strings (arranged by the band's saxophonist Daniel Fordham), hypnotic vocal rituals on noise/improv detour 'Bodies Carried Off By Bees' (featuring Far Rainbow) and the Yo La Tengo-meet-Section 25 repetitions of 'An Endless', its bright guitar arpeggios and billowing synths unfurling across ten minutes of glorious repetition. The album reaches its end with the fittingly grandiose 'Paper Boats On Black Ink Lake'. The radio unfriendly (at nearly 20 minutes long) track drifts in on sleepwalk-slow guitars, recalling Earth at their most serene, while Kate Gibson and Melinda Bronstein's vocals float over a bed of strings that could be Robert Kirby scoring Low's Secret Name.The World Is A Bell is an album of dense and unhurried songs, rich in sonic detail and ambitious in scope, its music simultaneously intimate and epic. Guitarist and lyricist Matt says, 'We wanted to create something that was completely its own thing, that was in no hurry to get anywhere and that contained large expanses for listeners to get lost in.