Leaf: Made Into Itself
Suspicious Records

Energized by encrusted, rope-a-dope beats and deepened by mournful string atmospheres, Leaf's gritty, hour-long travelogue Made Into Itself weaves through narcotized lairs and night-time urban zones. Though faint traces of folktronica, dancehall, and drum & bass occasionally surface, Leaf's primary focus is smoked-out and blunted instrumental hip-hop. Beats slam purposefully throughout “Paperdress [New Version],” one of the set's strongest moments, with Leaf arranging the elements into a compelling, string-laden whole and dropping the beats altogether during the song's sombre passages. Funky pulses stream through fields of dense crackle in the equally memorable “Glitch Exercise” while the occasional boost of energized vitality (“Full Booklet”) offsets the album's predominantly slow lope. The album's not perfect, however. While vocal elements enhance Made Into Itself during some moments (the soulful pleas in “Prism” and a female singer's “Here you are all alone in the city” in the Anticon-flavoured hidden track), voice samples are used excessively, and the spoken rant on “Intelligent Design” and sophomoric pontificating on “Lounge Dealers” largely grate. Generally speaking, Leaf's voice samples do add variety and texture but it's his instrumental constructions that impress most.

October 2005