Kevin’s Music Review: Low Leaf – AKASHAALAY

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So last week, Los Angeles musician Low Leaf dropped her new album, AKASHAALAY, and as it turns out, it kind of kicks ass. I started following her back when 2012’s Alchemizing Dawn was her newest album, drooling over her delicious blend of silvery harps and combustible electronic artistry while anticipating where she’d take her eclectic sound to next. Her music enchanted me, undoubtedly – vivacious, layered beauties like “pure . love” had me at hello, with no meditation required to reveal her unique style to be one deserving of anyone’s interest. She reminded me of the works of Flying Lotus in how she mixed the organic with the inorganic, the earthly with the interstellar, and she did it with a similar penchant for dynamic songwriting. Within her sonic pallet she has conquered the pulsing heartbeat of her beats with GiGA GAiA and the tranquility of the mind with the aforementioned Alchemizing Dawn, and by 2013, UNEARTHly found her pumping that extra bit of focus and deliberation her sound needed to excel. With such a dynamic sound, you could probably imagine why news of AKASHAALAY, her debut album on the Fresh Selects label, got me stoked. So, is it as good as expected?

If there’s one thing that’s hindered her albums in the past, it’s a lack of fully exploring her songs to their full potential. Her debut Chrysalis EP, while aesthetically potent, breezes by with little impact or evolution, which is a shame considering it possesses a richness that most debuts can only dream of wielding. Likewise, with Alchemizing Dawn, an incredibly soothing and much more stable piece, never quite gets its feet off the ground the way you might want, listening to it. To great result, these issues are addressed on AKASHAALAY, showcasing much superior songwriting: songs feel like complete songs, riding the full course of their ideas and thus have a much bigger effect on the listener, and things that you might not have noticed as much on her previous albums are now crystal clear – in particular her outstanding vocals. Underutilized in the past, as well as sitting a bit subdued in the mix, Low Leaf now lets loose her vocals with confidence and allows them to explore ideas freely, recalling eccentric mastery from artists such as Björk. Her sense of melody has improved as well, seen lucidly on tracks such as “Rise Up” and “Set Me Free”, where her newfound finesse can be seen appropriately at the forefront, driving these songs forward and blossoming in a skillful fashion. In addition to her voice, instruments and electronics are used much more tastefully this time around. Beats mix well with the effervescence of “Bahay Kubo”, and elsewhere is an all-out jamboree by the name of “2b1wd Eternal”, the latter of which also flexes AKASHAALAY’s lean toward tribal music. Her harp, one of the more remarkable aspects of her sound, also sounds as dazzling as ever, though it is sadly less prevalent this time around.

All throughout the album, her vision is shown to be much clearer than ever before, and songs are more memorable and powerful because of it. Any concerns I might have had with her sound are remedied on AKASHAALAY, and as a big fan of her work, it’s exactly the kind of improvement I had my fingers crossed for since UNEARTHly. What was once potential has now been fully realized, making AKASHAALAY not only a notable improvement over everything she’s released to date, but also marks the moment where any doubts that Low Leaf is anything short of a force to be reckoned with should be discarded faster than you can pluck a harp string.


Stream and purchase the album from Fresh Selects:

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