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Looking Through Leaves

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Album Review

Those who listen to a lot of electronic pop music have been conditioned to wait. When you hear a track that starts off gauzy and ambient and possibly soft-headed, you wait a couple of minutes: is it all going to explode into a headlong rush of crazy breaks, or suddenly be bolstered by a framework of thumping house rhythms, or will its plush texture slowly be nibbled away from the edges by glitches? Or will it just stay gauzy and ambient and possibly soft-headed for eight or nine minutes? Composer/producer/remixer Carmen Rizzo's third album under his own name teaches you quickly not to assume that you know what's going to happen. Although his female guest vocalists are all strangely interchangeable (all offer a variation on the cool, breathy lounge tone that goes so nicely with soft, warm electronica), the tracks themselves are nicely varied stylistically and most offer a rich if often sharp and spiky sonic palette. The best tracks are the most texturally adventurous ones: "Through the Storm," with its delicate layers of electronic percussion atop a plush carpet of multicolored synthesizer washes and caramel-colored basslines; "Passing By," with its spaghetti Western guitar tone and fine vocals from January Thompson; "We'll Fly," with its strangely martial beat, pleasingly crunchy tone, and unusually cool and detached vocals from Josey. When he errs it's on the side of wimpiness: guest vocalist Grant Lee Phillips is wasted on the overly soft "Bring the Mountain Down," and "Until You Find Another" floats ethereally and nicely enough, but for too long. The album does hang together very nicely as a whole, however, and even the tracks that tend to bog down offer consistently pleasant listening.

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Looking Through Leaves, Carmen Rizzo
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